Carl Icahn is making yet another dangerous bet. The hedge fund manager has acquired a six percent stake in Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) and is now trying to push the company from its private buyout. Dell founder Michael Dell and other investors agreed to buy the firm for $13.65 per share. At time of writing the firm’s stock was trading at $14.23.
This means that investors think Icahn can pull the deal off. Icahn has publicly stated that he thinks the firm’s stock is worth around $22. Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) investors don’t seem willing to go that far, though at least some are willing to bet that he’ll be able to block the privatization plan.
A Topeka Capital Markets research report on the company raised its twelve month price target to $18 per share. The analysts pointed to the forces pushing the share price of the company upward, and said that the eventual buyout price is likely to be much higher as a result of those pressures. Topeka had previously put a price target of $16 on the company.
Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) is the most interesting technology company right now, not because of its products, but because of the vagaries of valuing its stock. The result of the buyout challenge from Icahn will have ramifications for the future of Dell, and the future valuations of technology companies.
Icahn is not alone in his belief that Dell was systematically undervalued by the buyout deal. The firm’s largest shareholder, South Eastern Asset Management Inc., backed his claims that the proposals represents a very low valuation. Icahn is now demanding that the company offer a special dividend of $9 per share in order to make up for the loss.
The $9 per share special dividend would bring the valuation of the shares up to the $22 line that Icahn set on the firm’s valuation. It emerged today that Icahn was in talks to buy out the entire company for a price higher than that offered by Michael Dell’s consortium. That deal fell through and resulted in Icahn’s current campaign.
The Dell saga, which seemed to be over weeks ago, is now likely to continue for some time. The issues are unlikely to be resolved through the courts; it’s more likely a compromise will be reached. Investors seem certain that compromise will be in Icahn’s favor.