Shares Hewlett Packard Co., the world’s second largest computer maker, are edging slightly up today despite the mixed reviews from Wall Street.

HP (HPQ) announced its intent to acquire Mercury Interactive (MERQ) for $52 in cash per share, or $4.5 billion net of existing cash and debt. A number of analysts feel that this price may be too steep.

HP appears to have paid a very high premium for [Mercury] at 5x trailing 12 months revenues, observes Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein Research. He says it appears that HP was in a competitive bidding situation, although he doesn’t say who the other bidders might have been.

Andy Neff, at Bear Stearns says he’s keeping his HP rating at outperform, but says the deal increases our anxiety. He believes that the deal is steep compared to most software acquisitions completed recently, but notes that some have been even pricier, including EMC’s (EMC) purchase of RSA Security (RSAS).

On the other hand Sacconaghi does say that strategically the deal makes sense, nearly doubling HP’s software portfolio; he also says the acquisition is opportunistic in nature and does not reflect a fundamental change in HP’s growth strategy and does not alter our long-temr view on the stock, adding only 1% to HP revenues.

Richard Farmer of Merril Lynch agrees with the strategic partnering, saying the acquisition entrenches HP's position in the enterprise, adding that it fits the long run strategy of automating the data center. He reiterated a Buy for HP.

Shaw Wu of American Technology begs to differ. Though he appreciate[s] the strategic reasoning being the deal, he feels that the synergy between the Mercury's software footprint and HP OpenView and HP OpenCal are not in sync.

Our analysis indicates that more than 60-65% of MERQ's business is in the testing/development space with 30% in application management and 10% IT governance/resource management, he said, keeping the company rated at Hold.

HP shares rose nearly 5 percent, up $1.18 to $27.61 on the New York Stock Exchange.