Dell Reports Lower Profit but Barely Beats Expectations

Dellreported a profit that declined from a year ago but modestly beat estimates as it saw strong sales of its notebook computers, though its gross margin was slightly below analysts' forecasts.

Dell reported a net profit of $334 million, or 17 cents a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, compared with $351 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding one-time items, the world's #3 maker of personal computers said it earned 28 cents a share, down from 29 cents a share a year earlier.

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Sales for the most recent period rose 11 percent to $14.9 billion, exceeding the average estimate of $13.8 billion.

Analysts who follow Dell saw it earning 27 cents a share on sales of $13.847 billion, according to a poll from Thomson Reuters.

In late trading Thursday, shares of the company tumbled by more than 3 percent. Get after-hour quotes for Dell.

Dell shares closed almost 2 percent higher at $14.39 Thursday.

Although the company did not provide a formal outlook, it said demand in the commercial business had improved during the fourth quarter and said it was cautiously optimistic that the trend would continue into fiscal-year 2011.

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