On the radar
What to watch in the weeks ahead
By Telis Demos and Jia Lynn Yang, Fortune Magazine

(Fortune Magazine) -- Private equity takes Cendant for a spin?

As Henry Silverman's scandal-tainted retail conglomerate succumbs to years of poor stock performance with a breakup, will private equity be there to scoop up the pieces?

On July 31, Cendant (Charts) will spin off Realogy (which includes Coldwell Banker) and Wyndham hotels. Then, on Aug. 29, Cendant will vote to take the name of its car-rental biz, Avis Budget Group.

Each piece will remain public, but speculation is that private buyers might grab one or all of them if the shares stay down. Blackstone Group, where Silverman was once a partner, has already bought Travelport (owner of Orbitz) from Cendant and is a big investor in hotel chains. All three businesses are ideal targets: undervalued brands with good cash flow. Just last year a club of funds bought Avis Budget rival Hertz from Ford. It's slated to go public by 2007. --T.D.

Dell plays defense

No longer a Wall Street darling (its stock is down 52% over the past year), Dell is trying to convince investors it can get back its mojo. The latest idea from the world's largest computer maker?

Simplify pricing over the next several months by toning down all the special rebates and discounts that have confused consumers for years--without raising prices. But Dell (Charts) has to move quickly. Hewlett-Packard (Charts) and Lenovo (Charts) are gaining market share each quarter. (In the most recent period, HP was at 19% to Dell's 32% in the U.S., according to Gartner.)

And unlike before, Dell can't expect to stay on top by merely slashing its prices. HP CEO Mark Hurd has been trimming costs, and thanks to those efforts, he can play that game too. --J.L.Y.

Bidding war

The U.S. Army will open up its most lucrative international contract for competitive bidding on July 28--a contest that should stretch through November. Since 2001, KBR, a Halliburton (Charts) subsidiary, has managed the contract (for services like food delivery and construction), partly because it was the only firm in the world big enough to handle it.

But the Army will now split the work, worth about $5 billion annually, among four companies. Smaller chunks will allow rumored bidders like engineering giant Fluor (Charts), naval shipper Maersk, and UPS to take on manageable pieces. --T.D.

The Futures Market

Aug. 13

The International AIDS Conference begins in Toronto in time to hail the approval of Atripla, the first-ever one-pill-a-day AIDS drug.

Aug. 14

A hot mining deal heats up: Switzerland's Xstrata says Canada's Falconbridge must accept its $55-a-share offer by this date or no deal.

Aug. 16

Heinz holds its shareholder meeting, but corporate raider Nelson Peltz might crash the party. Peltz is nominating five new board members for the ketchup king.

Aug. 24

Fed chair Ben Bernanke speaks at the annual Jackson Hole, Wyo., meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where economists get face time with world financial leaders.

Aug. 27

The primetime Emmy awards air. With 25 nominations for TNT and FX, basic cable breaks out of its box. Top of page