Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) is on the clock.
Michael Dell’s plans to take his struggling computer company private will either materialize of fizzle out on July 18 when shareholder votes will be tallied in consideration of the proposed buyout.
It’s been five months since Dell and private equity giant Silver Lake Partners unveiled plans to acquire the company for $13.65 a share in cash.
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL)’s front porch was busy with callers for awhile. Blackstone stepped up with a higher offer in March, only to back out a few weeks later. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn began to build up a stake in the company — proposing that a generous payout would help prop up shareholder value — but that, too, has been largely dismissed. If Dell’s struggling financially now, imagine how poorly it will fare in a leveraged state.
This brings us back to Michael Dell, now seemingly the only one on bended knee. The PC maker’s stock took a hit on Friday after reports indicated that Silver Lake has no plans of raising its offer. The shares fell to close out the week at $13.03, a price that suggests that this deal isn’t going to happen.
Dell’s special board committee is urging shareholders to vote in favor of the deal, arguing that the stock could fall to as low as $5.85 without the deal based on the negative fiscal trends and comparable valuations to larger rival Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ).
Cynics will argue that the committee is too chummy with its founder. Icahn also isn’t the only one that has argued that investors deserve more.
However, pride has rarely worked out for fading dinosaurs. Circuit City also rebuffed a buyout offer in the teens in 2005. It liquidated four years later.
Icahn, institutional investors, and even proxy-advisory firms may be vocal in arguing that $13.65 a share isn’t enough, but we’ve been at this since February now. If Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) was worth more, surely somebody would have been offering more by now.
Dell’s future isn’t very bright. It’s on the wrong side of the computing revolution, failing to make a dent in the smartphone and tablet markets that are growing at the expense of desktops and laptops.
Analysts see revenue declining at Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) and HP this year and again in 2014. Both companies are eyeing big declines in profitability this year as margins continue to contract. Both companies may have had the right idea by diversifying into new areas in recent years, but they generally overpaid for storage and business services acquisitions.