Truth Serum: The Summer of Undead Deals

Like oozing zombies, some deal rumors just won't stay dead and buried.
Author:
Publish date:

The voice on the other end of the phone was a familiar one. A fellow cradle-to-grave

Mets

fan, a Brooklyn

paesan

and a brokerage firm employee. We talk weekly, about the pennant race, the Street and three-sewer stickball glories of the '70s.

This, however, was a special call. He'd just heard from some brokers at his firm that

Staples

(SPLS)

was making a run at

CompUSA

(CPU)

, the computer retailer. "Can you check it out for me? These guys here say it's gonna happen," the voice said.

It was at this point that I read from the

TheStreet.com

legal manual, informing him that even if I knew it was happening (and I certainly didn't), he'd have to wait and read about it on the site. He grumbled.

The conversation moved on to Piazza, Parcells and to "catch ya later."

Later that day, though, a reader sent the following email:

  • Love the column. Here's another one for you ... CPU -- rumored buyer: Staples, Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report.

Now, according to my Joyce Jillson horoscope in Tuesday's

New York Daily News

, I must "examine rumors with the utmost care." That all but guarantees that I'm not biting on anything this week.

Not that there's much to bite on, it being the last week of August. But even without the usual dearth of news, the Staples takeover talk and some other discussions made it the

Week of the Living Dead Rumor

.

This rumor harkens back to 1998, and

1010WallStreet.com

market watcher Paul Foster, who has trafficked in his share of trading-floor chatter and takeover possibilities.

After disappearing for most of this year, CompUSA emerged from

StockRumors.com

on Aug. 16. It mentioned the company as a target of

Gateway

(GTW)

. Hey, and why not? A mail order computer company buying a bricks-and-mortar computer retailer; it makes perfect sense.

Start holding your breath now. Even Foster has given up on a CompUSA takeout. A CompUSA spokeswoman declined to comment.

"As of right now, there's no anticipation of a deal. Let's just say Staples is interested," says Foster. "What's the takeout price? Part of me believes this is a turnaround candidate and part of me thinks it could be another

Filene's Basement

," which just filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors.

CompUSA's shares have run up about 24% since Aug. 13, but it's a stock that resides below 10, so we have to keep in mind how it's all relative, regardless of whether your broker calls and says this deal's "gotta happen."

But CompUSA wasn't the only corpse of a rumor stalking the land of the living.

Revlon

(REV) - Get Report

talk won't go away even though corporate titan and Revlon Chairman Ron Perelman could concentrate on business with

Ellen Barkin

sucking his fingers in trendy New York restaurants (as one of the city's tabloids reported).

So far, Revlon hasn't been acquired.

We're depending on our readers for sources, rumors and ideas. Send any to our Truth Serum hotline at

truth@thestreet.com.