The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) spent the entire day underwater not because of big economic news, but because The Wall Street Journal reported last night that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is cutting back on its iPhone parts orders. There could be a number of reasons for this (such as lack of demand or supply chain problems), but as the largest component of the S&P 500 by weight, its drop is having serious reverberations throughout the tech space and the overall market.
On the day, the S&P 500 ended lower by 1.37 points (-0.09%), to finish at 1,470.68.
Dell surged as much as 18% after Bloomberg reported that the company could be in talks with two private equity firms to go private. Hewlett-Packard tracked Dell's move higher by gaining nearly 5% following an upgrade from analysts at JPMorgan, who don't see things getting any worse for the company.
The possibility of a buyout might have you scratching your head, but as a shareholder in Dell myself, I saw this possibility coming from miles away. Dell's PC business, while shrinking, is still a cash cow, and it's in the process of transitioning from a PC maker to an enterprise-focused networking and cloud solutions provider. Dell is boasting more than $5 billion in net cash and is more than capable of producing $3 billion in free cash flow annually. Needless to say, I still see value in Dell even after today's huge rally.
HP, on the other hand, has little business moving higher in spite of the upgrade, with more than $17 billion in net debt, a recent $8.8 billion writedown on its Autonomy purchase, and the upcoming layoffs of 27,000 employees in order to trim costs.
Turning to a completely different sector, VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC), owner of brands such as North Face, Wrangler, and Nautica, vaulted 3% higher after announcing that it and Altamont Capital Partners are offering $555.5 million to purchase Billabong. This offer matches a consortium bid in December, but is less than the $734.6 million offered by private equity firm TPG International in July. VF has masterfully orchestrated growing its company through buyouts over the years and Billabong would go a long way toward expanding its reach to younger crowds. Consider VF's rise today the thumbs-up from investors that they too favor its pursuit of Billabong.
Fool contributor Sean Williams owns shares of Dell, but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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