The Exchange

Dell Investors May Be Getting a Gift — Relatively Speaking

The Exchange

Dell (DELL) shareholders might be getting more than they bargained for, and in a good way. Should the latest reports prove accurate, the potential buyout price for the PC and server maker keeps going up.

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Dell founder Michael Dell: Credit Reuters

If you own the stock, you're getting a more generous gift than what you might have been offered a couple of weeks ago. Now, the possibility is being discussed that Dell, the subject of takeover rumors since mid-January, could be sold for $15 to $16 a share. The New York Post, which reported on the possibly elevated range, said an acquisition may be announced by Sunday or Monday. That would put a price of about $24 billion on the Round Rock, Texas, company.

Dell founder Michael Dell is said to be trying to reach an agreement with Silver Lake Partners to buy the company and turn it private. Published reports have also indicated Microsoft (MSFT) will likely take a minority stake. Michael Dell himself is the largest Dell holder, with more than 273 million shares, or 15.7% of the stock, according to ownership data available from FactSet.

So is it worth it? It's worth what someone will pay ultimately. Previous articles had put the likely bid in the $13 to $14 range, in line with a recent valuation model Yahoo! Finance ran after the takeover talk began. That model produced a justifiable price of $13.60 on Dell's shares, though that's of course debatable owing to the assumptions built into the discounted cash flow approach.

[Dell projections: Study our full model here.]

The consensus price target on Wall Street is $12.38. Dell will undoubtedly get a premium if an acquisition does occur -- the question is how much of one considering the current price. Dell is already up 24% from its $10.88 close before the takeover rumors started to build.

Following the Post article, a subsequent Reuters report stayed with the rumored $13 to $14 range, citing sources, and that looks to be what traders are figuring on for the moment. After trading earlier Friday up to $14.17, Dell was recently at $13.52, ahead by 2% on the session. At that level, it's still 18% short of a theoretical $16 offer. So should it come, that likely means a fresh jolt for the stock. Dell needs to climb almost 36% from here to match its 52-week high at $18.36.

However, at the top end of the new (possible) range, a good number of investors would probably sign on. Dell's stock had its best days during the dot-com boom, and going back five years, it's lost 31.9%. The stock last saw $20 in the weeks before the September 2008 financial crisis.

In other words, if you've been holding on to this one for a few years, you may well be ready to take what they give you and get out.

You tell us -- what do you think Dell is worth?

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