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Who Should Hewlett-Packard Buy?

HP can't afford to buy every one of our Desirable Dozen, but in the post-Mark Hurd era, the world's largest computer maker needs to consider acquiring more than a few of these companies. Here's who -- and why.

The resignation of Mark Hurd and Hewlett-Packard's search for a new CEO raise questions about HP's long-term strategy. Under Hurd's watch, HP plowed more deeply into IT services with the $13.9 billion acquisition of EDS, spent $1.2 billion for smartphone OS vendor Palm, and shored up its position in networking with the $2.9 billion purchase of 3Com and in the data center with the $4.5 billion acquisition of management software company Mercury Interactive. HP accumulated several more niche companies along the way, but there's still plenty more to do.

Once HP's board names a successor, where should he or she be spending the company's acquisition dollars? What follows is our Desirable Dozen list of potential targets, compiled by InformationWeek's editors. We understand that HP can't buy every one of these companies. Although it has a healthy war chest -- more than $14 billion in cash at the end of the second quarter--there are limits to what HP can spend. But it needs to consider buying more than a few of these companies.