It's easy to hope there's merit to the rumors that Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) will woo Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD). With a management organizational chart so full of holes it resembles Swiss cheese, AMD is an obvious takeover candidate. If nothing else, think of all the money that would not be blown on golden parachutes.

A surefire way to kill off sales
If only it were that simple. Should Dell buy AMD, important AMD customers such as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) wouldn't like buying microprocessors from rival Dell. Instead, HP and IBM would be concerned about Dell's ability to gain insight into their design plans and shipments and about being shoved to the back of the line when supplies are tight. Thus, if Dell bought AMD, it’s likely that HP's and IBM's purchases of AMD products would slow to a trickle. They could stay above zero thanks to the benefits of having a second source to Intel (Nasdaq: INTC).

Ditto for Oracle's (Nasdaq: ORCL) purchases of AMD products for its Sun servers ... and pretty much any other vendor of PCs and Intel-architecture servers. What's more, a few big customers go a long way for AMD. According to the company's 10-K, five customers account for more than 50% of revenue. HP is the largest.

If any computer maker purchased AMD, revenue and earnings would plummet.

It's complicated
HP knows all too well the costs of investing in processors: Demand for the Itanium line it co-developed with Intel fell far short of expectations, resulting in higher costs than projected. HP has also grappled with the complications of managing a mishmash of products using Intel and AMD processors and its own discontinued proprietary design, which was transitioned to Itanium.  

Let's not forget that IBM and Oracle (by way of Sun) already have their own processor lines. They sold or licensed them to other computer makers but made little headway.  

Foolish takeaway
Profitable acquisitions of mature tech companies such as AMD require huge synergies -- which look better on dealmakers' PowerPoints than in real life -- or huge cost savings.

AMD investors hoping Dell will again overpay for an acquisition or start a bidding war are likely to be disappointed (at least as far as AMD is concerned). Perhaps a semiconductor or foundry company could acquire AMD and get synergies by serving the same customers. Barring that, AMD looks like a bride without a logical groom.  

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Fool contributor Cindy Johnson owns no shares in any of the companies in this story. In her view, financial projections in PowerPoints have an optimistic bias that increases in proportion to the size of the bankers' fees. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Intel. The Fool owns shares of IBM and Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.