Palm Shares Like Talk of HTC or Lenovo Buyout

Shares of Palm Inc. (PALM) had jumped almost 12 percent by 3 p.m. Eastern on talk that the Pre and Pixi maker could be bought out by rival HTC or even computer manufacturer Lenovo.

Palm stock was going for $5.20, up 11.83 percent. The 52-week high stands at $18.09.

Palm’s fortunes have plummeted in the face of competition from smartphones including the Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone and Motorola Inc. (MOT) Droid. Earlier this week, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein told Fortune he is “bummed out … by things like [the Pre] not taking off at Verizon.” Palm’s devices have suffered a notorious lack of adoption at the nation’s largest wireless carrier, refueling speculation that Palm will have to be acquired to survive.

“Every day there is a different rumor about who is going to buy Palm,” Kevin Hunt of Hapoalim Securities told MarketWatch on Friday. “I could make a list of eight companies who could buy it. But would they buy it for more than $1 billion? I just don’t know.”

And would HTC make a good partner for Palm? The Taiwan-based company has gained market share in the United States, as well as other parts of the world. In fact, HTC was the first company to make an Android-powered phone – Android is Google Inc.’s (GOOG) mobile operating system – and manufactures Google’s Nexus One. But the big drawback for is that it doesn’t have its own operating system, Hunt told MarketWatch. Of course, buying Palm would help fix that problem.

Other analysts, though, say it makes more sense for a computer maker to buy Palm. The shift to mobile devices isn’t going to lose ground; more computer companies grasp that they need smartphones too, but don’t have a mobile OS. Having Palm on hand would address that gap, they say.

No matter who buys Palm, though, a deal doesn’t promise to go smoothly.

“This is not an easy, tuck-in acquisition for anyone,” Matt Thornton of Avian Securities told MarketWatch.

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