Storage management specialist Compellent Technologies (NYSE: CML) could be the storage component Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) has been looking for. Outbid by Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) in the race to acquire 3PAR over the summer, Dell has been searching high and low for a storage plug-in with strong technology, and a joint release shows that the server giant has indeed been talking to Compellent.

So why is the stock doing a swan dive today? Because the suggested takeover price of $27.50 per Compellent share is far below current prices.

Let's break that crazy state of affairs down a little bit. On the surface, no sane shareholder would agree to a buyout below current market prices. But the reported $27.50 price tag may very well be a starting point and not the final bid. It could also be a snapshot of Compellent's valuation in Dell's eyes as taken as recently as a few weeks ago.

The rumor mill has caught onto Compellent's compelling buyout case and that has boosted share prices several times in recent history. Even after today's losses, the stock has gained a staggering 68% over the past three months and double that amount in six months. Today's 15% drop brought share prices back to levels not seen since, gosh, Monday morning.

Perhaps this overheated buyout speculation is pricing Compellent out of Dell's deal budget. If its automation technologies are tasty enough, perhaps EMC (NYSE: EMC) or HP would step in to steal Dell's candy once again. And if Dell won't raise its bid, Compellent's shareholders could vote the deal down. There are many possible scenarios that don't end with Dell and Compellent joining together.

But something tells me that HP and EMC are too busy integrating their own recent acquisitions to pay Compellent any mind. Dell could and probably should raise its bid by a nominal amount, perhaps 10%, just to appease shareholders and ensure a positive vote. This really could be the deal Dell was looking for.

Add Compellent to your Foolish watchlist to follow this story up close and personal, then drop down to the comments box to tell us how you see this saga ending.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. 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, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.