Dell Stock Flat On Icahn's Retreat


As the markets closed Tuesday, Dell stocks remained flat despite activist shareholder Carl Icahn's surrender on his bid for control of the company, a market trend that analysts expect to continue until the Thursday vote on whether the company will remain public.

The price that the company is hovering around is close to the one agreed upon for the shares in the deal, said Crawford Del Prete, executive vice president of worldwide research at IDC. Del Prete said that he doesn't expect the price to change until the Thursday vote.

Del Prete said that Icahn's announcement gave a little more certainty to investors in the wake of a few months of antics that he likened to a soap opera.

[Related: Channel Cheers Icahn's White Flag In Dell Leveraged Buyout Bid]

"The biggest problem with Carl Icahn getting involved was the cloud of uncertainty that is put over the company. I think Michael [Dell] did a great job of keeping the company focused on the task at hand as they went through the shareholder battle, and this battle of control. I think if you're a customer and you're really wondering what is the future of Dell and where it's headed -- you shouldn't be worried about it anymore," Del Prete said.

Analysts didn't see the move as a surprise, but they did say that Icahn stepped out with less fanfare than they expected. However, Dell uncertainty has not come to a close yet, said Tim Jennings, research fellow and chief analyst of enterprise IT at Ovum.

"I think there is an acknowledgment that Michael Dell’s proposed transformation makes sense, but there is, of course, uncertainty around the likelihood of success, and shareholders, therefore, presumably perceive that the offer on the table, particularly with the most recent incentives, offers a reasonable value given that uncertainty," Jennings said.

Going forward, the analysts said that they expect Dell to turn more towards the channel, and the move away from Wall Street will help facilitate that change and increased innovation.

"Dell, the man and company, can concentrate on making the changes that the company perceives is necessary to become an even more strategic provider in the IT infrastructure, something it couldn’t do with Wall Street looking over their shoulder," said Carter Lusher, an independent industry analyst. "For corporate customers, this is the best thing since sliced bread."

Del Prete said that he expects to see a lot more innovation coming from Dell in the future that will work in favor of the channel. He predicted growing expansion in portions of the server market, Android tablets and continued acquisitions in software, services and hardware.

"I think watching their moves in those areas and how they really evolve in those areas is the next big thing," Del Prete said.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 10, 2013