Tech chatter turned this week to possible deals, with analysts and investors trying to pick logical targets.
The top deal candidates this week are
( PALM). Palm delivered its Pre phone last weekend and, more important, the company's WebOS software, which looks to be a viable contender in the still-unfolding smartphone operating system market.
Stuck in a rut with slumping PC sales, Dell has talked about exploring deals for months, but this week CEO Michael Dell indicated he expects to make an "
" acquisition, according to reports. To Wall Street observers, Palm's smartphone rebirth and its tenuous financial structure suggest a ripe takeout candidate. Palm shares jumped 12% Thursday on Dell deal chatter.
On Friday, analysts at Collins Stewart
issued a note
to clients saying Dell needs a foothold in smartphones and Palm needs size to compete with
Research In Motion
( RIMM). The note also estimates that Dell has the $3 billion in cash it would need to pull off the deal.
It's worth noting that there has been long-running speculation that No. 1 PC shop
, with its ample cash, would also
. But there has been nothing to report on that front.
Sprint and Qwest
that simmers and cools on the M&A stove is now simmering again:
exploring a long distance joint venture. Qwest's recent inability to sell its national fiber-optic network has reopened the possibility that the Rocky Mountain telco could combine the unit with Sprint's so-called long haul business.
Earlier this week, the
reported that Sprint was interested in a long-haul combination with
Level 3 Communications
. But the idea fizzled a bit after observers questioned how a joint venture could
load. If anything, the report helped smoke out Qwest and its interests in getting out from under the high costs of operating its massive coast-to-coast optical network.
Sprint and Qwest declined to comment.
A best guess is that Sprint will want two-thirds control over the long-haul venture, and Qwest will ruminate for several more months.
Investors were placing some deal bets Friday. Despite a down day in the market, Qwest and Sprint shares were both up about 4% and Level 3 was down about 5%.