NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of IT services and software company EMC (EMC) are moving higher in early trading amid conflicting reports regarding M&A talks between the company and Dell, which is privately owned by founder Michael Dell and private-equity partner Silver Lake. Analysts weighing in on the potential for a deal generally expressed doubt that a takeover is likely, but agree that some alternate deal may make sense and could be struck between the two.
CONFLICTING REPORTS: Last night, Liz Hoffman, Dana Mattioli and Joann Lublin of The Wall Street Journal reported that Dell and Silver Lake are in "advanced talks" to buy EMC, noting that one source indicated the deal being discussed calls for the buyers to spin off EMC's VMware (VMW) unit. Then, Re/code's Arik Hesseldahl reported that EMC has approached Dell in recent weeks about selling its VNX data storage business to the private technology company. The tech reporter, who has frequently reported on EMC and VMware in the past, contended that acquiring a unit would make more logical and financial sense for Dell than buying all of EMC. However, CNBC's David Faber subsequently contended, in keeping with the Journal, that Dell is in talks to acquire all of EMC for "above $27 per share," adding that a deal could be announced as soon as one week from now.
ANALYST TAKES: Jefferies analyst James Kisner thinks a Dell/EMC combination makes sense if EMC were to buy Dell or the two were to merge. However, he thinks EMC going private or Dell buying EMC is not likely given EMC's size and his view that a VMware spin out is not likely. If EMC and Dell were to merge, HP Enterprises (HP) could be the "odd man out" and an EMC acquisition of NetApp (NTAP) would be less likely, Kisner told investors in a research note. JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall agrees that a takeout of EMC by Dell does not make a lot of sense given the relative sizes of the two companies and the likely desire of Michael Dell and Silver Lake to exit their investments. EMC buying Dell is more likely, Hall told investors in his own research note. The analyst views the combination of EMC's storage business with Dell's 20% share of the server market as "strategically logical," however. He also views the potential Dell, EMC tie-up as negative for HP Enterprise. Analysts at Oppenheimer were also cautious about a full merger between the companies, partly because the firm believes that such a deal would be difficult to execute, add the low-margin consumer business to EMC, and create more conflicts between EMC and Cisco (CSCO) .
WHAT'S NOTABLE: Elliott Management, which is pushing EMC to break up, is planning to give EMC most of October to answer its demands after a standstill agreement expired, Reuters reported on October 1, citing people familiar with the matter. Elliott hopes that the additional time will allow the data storage company to create a response that could avoid a bruising activist campaign, the report stated, adding that Elliott plans to keep quiet until October 21, when EMC is scheduled to report Q3 earnings.
PRICE ACTION: In early trading soon after the opening bell, EMC shares gained 3.6% to $26.93, while VMware fell 3.7% to $79.05 and HP was flat near $28 per share.