Dell has $9.8 billion in cash and short-term investments, and analysts say it should spend more to help itself grow. "They have to get more acquisitive," says Eric Gebaide, a managing director at investment bank Innovation Advisors, who has discussed deals with Dell in the past. Possible paths could include bulking up in IT services, a la HP and IBM (IBM), or expanding its software presence, like Sun Microsystems (JAVA). "Where does Dell get that extra juice?" Gebaide says.
One possible target could be consulting firm BearingPoint (BE), whose market value has dropped to below $170 million, Gebaide says. Adding security software could also be a natural fit. "They could make a big impact without a lot of bucks," he says.