Opinion

What's behind Computacenter's share bounce?

Could an Indian outsourcer be among the predators stalking Europe's largest reseller Computacenter?

Probably not, but this is the talk among investors and brokers who have noted sweeping movements in CC's share price, which bounced in mid-October to a 52-week high of 384 pence, deviating from a long-term pattern.

CC has released a string of good results so far in 2010, booking increases in cash flow and profits, and is building a higher proportion of services in its overall business mix but would that in itself cause the price to rally?

The value is up circa 30% in October compared to a far smaller upward swing in the FTSE Tech mark, leading investors to speculate that a mystery buyer could be lurking in the shadows.

The sentiment is that CC would be a solid platform for one of the Indian outsourcers and could provide an instant market share gain for an offshore firm.

But then reality strikes. Why would one of the Indian outsourcers that enjoy 30% margins want to buy a commodity based IT player, albeit one that is building a stronger portfolio of annuity services?

On top of this, why would CC's founders and major shareholders Peter Ogden and Philip Hume want to bail out of a business that is effectively a cash cow, churning out healthy dividends?

So could someone else be interested in the firm? Possibly, but they would more likely belong to the reseller community in the US or Europe that would have the clout to shell out roughly ten times CC's earnings.

Who would that put in the frame? Computer Discount Warehouse, CC partner Compuware or dare I say it, SCC? Just a very, very silly thought and not one that CC management would entertain.

This was first published in October 2010

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