Dell profits fall as company battles to go private

Dell's profit and revenue both declined amid a collapse in PC sales

Dell has reported another quarter of declining revenue and profits as the company's CEO continues his battle to take the PC maker private.

It was the fifth consecutive quarter in which Dell's profits shrank, and the fourth in which it reported declining revenue. The company has been hit by a downturn in the PC market.

Revenue for its fourth fiscal quarter, ended Feb. 1, declined 11 percent to US$14.3 billion, Dell said. Net income was $530 million, or $0.30 per share, down from $764 million, or $0.43 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue from desktop and laptop PCs, which account for about half Dell's business, declined 20 percent in the quarter. Sales from storage and services also fell from the year earlier. The only business unit to see growth was Dell's server and networking business, where sales were up 18 percent, Dell said.

Dell has been trying to reduce its dependence on PCs and refashion itself as a complete "solutions" company, one that sells higher-margin software and services as well as PCs and servers. But the transformation has been taking longer than investors would like.

Earlier this month, Michael Dell announced a plan to team up with Silver Lake and take his company private in a $24.4. billion deal. The move could allow the company founder to focus on longer-term investments, away from the constant scrutiny of Wall Street.

However, the plan has run into opposition from big shareholders, who think the $13.65 per share that the buyout group is offering doesn't reflect the value of the company. One big investor, Donald Yacktman of Yacktman Asset Management, has said the chances of the deal going through at its current valuation are "close to zero."

The quarterly profit figures reported above include one-time charges and other items. Excluding those items, Dell reported a profit of $0.40 per share for the quarter, a penny ahead of the consensus analyst forecast, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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