Earnings at Dell Rise 47 Percent Amid Robust Industry Sales|
Dell Computer Corp. reported a 47 percent gain in quarterly earnings Tuesday, exceeding analysts' estimates, as the company continued to gain market share from rivals.
Dell said sales were exceptionally strong in its fiscal quarter, which ended July 31, among consumer and small-business customers.
Dell reported its results after the close of the stock market. In regular trading, its shares closed at $41.125, down 31.25 cents, off about 25 percent from a 52-week high of $55. In after-hours trading, the shares were quoted as high as $43.125.
The company also said that in the quarter it surpassed the rival Compaq Computer Corp. as the No. 1 supplier of personal computers. It based its contention, which was not independently confirmed, on a comparison of its product shipments with analysts' industrywide estimates. Compaq remained ahead worldwide, according to industry surveys.
Analysts found little not to like in Dell's report. Coming after reports of strong PC sales by Hewlett-Packard and IBM, Dell's results confirmed that the market is seeing healthy growth and some firming of prices. Dell's direct-sales model, in which it builds each computer to order, has allowed it to grow much faster than the industry as a whole. But Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard have also benefited from the continuing troubles at Compaq, analysts said.
"The problems at Compaq have helped HP, and the general trends in the market help Dell and Gateway," said Seymour Merrin, of Merrin Information Services. "There has been a lot of reinforcing of the high end because people who bought low-end machines on sale realize they got burned. Now they want more."
For its second fiscal quarter, which ended July 31, Dell reported earnings of $507 million, or 19 cents a share, up 47 percent from $346 million, or 12 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Sales rose 42 percent, to $6.14 billion from $4.33 billion. The per-share figures reflected a reduction in the amount of stock outstanding because of Dell's share-repurchase program.
The company, which is based in Round Rock, Texas, said it saw a 100 percent gain in the sales of consumer products, an area it had not previously emphasized. Sales of network servers, work stations and storage products, which Dell collectively referred to as enterprise systems, increased 85 percent from an already strong position a year earlier.
"The whole enterprise segment is really on a tear for us," said chairman and chief executive Michael Dell in a telephone interview. "We're the No. 1 provider of work stations in the world, Unix and NT combined," he said, referring to the two operating systems commonly used on such machines.
Since Silicon Graphics announced last week that it would seek a manufacturing and marketing partner for its Windows NT-based work stations, speculation has centered on Dell as the likely candidate. But Dell said he had little interest in such a deal. "Quite frankly, I don't think we need them," he said. "We're doing it without them."
Dell again led industry growth in unit shipments, revenue and earnings. Shipments increased 55 percent, twice analysts' estimates of total industry growth. Dell's operating income was 11.3 percent of revenue, up from 11.1 percent a year earlier, as operating expenses declined nearly a full percentage point. Gross profit was 22 percent, up from 21.5 percent in the April quarter but down from 22.7 percent a year earlier.
"It looks like they're pretty much still on a roll," said Daniel Kunstler, an analyst with J.P. Morgan. "But this is where you have to be really careful: What can they do for an encore, and how much of this is Compaq being pretty much out of commission?"