Dell's deal for Perot Systems: What the $3.9 billion price says about Dell's future

Dell Inc. (DELL) agreed to pay a 68 percent premium for Perot Systems Corp. (PER) in a $3.9 billion acquisition announced today. That's a shockingly high figure in a stock market that has run up enormously. What's more, Dell paid cash, $30 per share, a step that means all the risk in the deal is held by Dell.

Perot Systems is hardly a paragon of growth: in the last quarter, it only netted $31 million on $628 million in revenue. According to 24/7 Wall Street, Dell wildly overpaid for Perot, and shareholders should be outraged. But CEO-founder Michael Dell may not have had much choice, due to the dearth of potential targets for acquisition in this arena, and the dimming profitability prospects in the consumer and small-business markets for servers and computers.