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If you own shares of Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL  ) , stop reading right now and go sell them. Go on, I'll wait. Last night's earnings report is of absolutely no consequence to you.

The software designer is in the midst of going private, with a firm offer already signed, sealed, and delivered. The fact that Novell met non-GAAP earnings expectations exactly at $0.07 per share, and beat the revenue consensus with a $207 million performance, doesn't change the private equity offer one bit, nor do I expect the numbers to derail the buyout in any way.

Seriously, just go sell your shares right now. Prices are locked in at about $0.13 below the $6.10 buyout offer, come hell or high water. They're not going anywhere -- you might as well just earn interest on the cash balance instead, if you don't have any better investments in mind.

Owning Novell now is like hanging on for dear life to Blockbuster shares as that company spiraled into bankruptcy. There is no bidding war, no rumored higher offer, and the well-heeled Novell buyers aren't likely to get cold feet. The one thing that could change Novell's fortunes now is a negative shareholder vote or regulatory intervention of some sort, both of which would do some serious damage to your holdings. There is no upside, only risk.

It's easy to replace Novell with an equivalent holding, and you even get to pick which part of the company you liked the most:

  • The market leader in the Linux and open-source space is Red Hat (NYSE: RHT  ) , with Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS  ) coming on strong behind it. Either of these stocks can replace Novell's SuSE Linux division in your portfolio if you're looking for open-source exposure.
  • Maybe you loved the legacy systems in Novell's portfolio, such as Netware, and want to milk cash out of long-established product lines. Computer Sciences (NYSE: CSC  ) fits that bill and pays out a modest dividend. You could even squeeze IBM into that mold as well.
  • Or perhaps you saw Novell as a turnaround story in the making. Some would sell you flailing giant (and Novell partner) Microsoft on that basis; others look to scandal-damaged Hewlett-Packard.

It's your money and your portfolio -- only you know what to do with it. Just don't let it wither in Novell shares, exposed to some risk but no reward opportunity, unproductive and unloved. You can do so much better.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of International Business Machines and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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