- Associated Press - Monday, August 23, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - As computer makers Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. start a bidding war for 3Par Inc., investors are placing bets on who the next acquisition target will be in the data storage industry.

HP and Dell are both looking past a sluggish personal computer market to find bigger profits elsewhere. They are among the tech giants trying to branch out with more software, hardware and services offerings for other companies. They hope to be a trusted, one-stop-shop for customers updating their technology infrastructures.

And one piece of that infrastructure is the software and equipment used to store data. H-P on Monday bid $1.5 billion for data storage provider 3Par, 33 percent more than the $1.13 billion that rival Dell agreed to pay for the company just a week earlier.

The interest in 3Par has investors looking at similar names in the industry, which is driving up the value of their shares.

Shares of Compellent Technologies Inc., a Eden Prairie, Minn., maker or storage hardware and software, jumped $1.64, or nearly 12 percent, to $15.59 in afternoon trading. Oceanport, N.J.-based CommVault Systems Inc., which makes data management software under the Simpana brand, rose $2.82, or 13.6 percent, to $23.61.

And the Seattle-based storage company Isilon Systems Inc. saw shares rise $2.08, or almost 12 percent, to $19.91.

Investors signaled that they don’t expect the bidding for 3Par to end either.

The company’s stock jumped $7.64, or 42.4 percent, to $25.68, well above HP’s offer of $24 per share. Dell opened the bidding last week at $18. A company spokesman declined to say what Dell’s next move will be.