March 2, 2000 - Reuters) Shares of Palm Inc. skyrocketed the day after
its highly anticipated initial public offering, giving Palm a stock market
value of US$53.4B.
stock soared from its IPO price of $38 to open at $150 and trade as high
as $165 on Nasdaq. The stock ended up 57-1/16 at 95-1/16, making it the
third-biggest percentage gainer and the fourth most active issue on the
Late Wednesday, 3Com, which makes products and software for data networking,
sold 23 million shares, or 4 percent, of its Palm unit at $38 each - well
above the expected range of $30 to $32. Initially, the stock was expected
to be priced at $14 to $16 a share.
the stock's closing price, Palm had a market capitalization that was larger
than that of its parent company, 3Com.
3Com's most recent SEC filing says it all. From Q2 1999 to Q2 2000:
- Sales of network systems products (switches, hubs, routers, etc.)
personal connectivity products (NICs, modems, etc.) decreased 14%
of handheld computing products (Palm) increased 77%
Palm has been pumping up 3Com revenues.
is more than aware of the trends - its stated plans are to focus on the
following growth markets as it completes its Palm spin-off: voice over
IP (VoIP), LAN telephony, broadband access, wireless access, and home
largest rivals are not standing still. Lucent Technologies (NYSE:LU) has
also announced plans to spin-off its' own, more mature PBX and LAN networking
businesses. Lucent will concentrate on high growth areas, including optical
networking, Internet infrastructure, wireless, semiconductors, and consulting
services, according to Lucent Technologies Chairman and CEO Richard McGinn.
telecom giant Nortel Networks (NYSE:NT) is moving in similar directions.
Nortel recently announced plans to spend $260 million and add 3,400 people
to its burgeoning fiber optic networking business. Nortel is also active
in CRM (Customer Relation Management) and call center software, with its
plan to acquire San Jose-based front office software maker Clarify Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) dominates the market for network hardware
such as routers and switches. It's also moving aggressively toward the
LAN hub and switch (hello, 3Com!) market, and home users. Furthermore,
Cisco has over US$10B cash to help finance any potential acquisitions.
with a market cap of "only" US$28B is dwarfed by the market capitalizations
of Lucent (US$229B), Cisco (US$454B), and Nortel (US$161B). It can't afford
to buy any of them at present. As 3Com heads for newer markets, it's going
to find two extremely deep pockets - Lucent and Nortel - headed there
as well. At the same time, Lucent is clearly eschewing 3Com's traditional
networking market, while Cisco is targeting LAN's and homes.
stock will churn as the market digests its distribution of its 94% share
of Palm stock. Obviously, it will add greatly to its own US$950M cash
reserves, but 3Com's rivals dwarf even Palm's US$54B market cap. Hmm.
Well, Cisco's San Jose headquarters are only about five miles away from
Santa Clara. And Cisco has the reputation for being extremely good at
expect a 70% likelihood that 3Com and Cisco enter into merger or acquisition
discussions during the next twelve months, and at least a 40% likelihood
that they establish a joint venture, minority purchase, or merger.
Users planning hub and switch purchases during 2000 need not regard a
3Com purchase decision as automatic. At a minimum, the increased market
pressures can be leveraged for more favorable purchase terms. 3Com's technology,
distribution, price points, and name recognition remain undiluted. However,
3Com customers should not be averse to looking at competing vendors such
as those documented above.