Recovering Corporate Demand Drives Dell Earnings Up 15.5%


Dell (DELL) reported earnings for its fiscal second quarter 2011 increased 15.5% as commercial customer demand for its enterprise solutions -- including servers and networking systems, storage and services -- climbed significantly worldwide, driving total revenue up by 22%. Results topped Street expectations.

The No. 2 computer maker after Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) said it earned $545 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $472 million, or 24 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding charges, it earned $629 million in the quarter, or 32 cents per share. Analysts expected Dell to report adjusted earnings of 30 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Gross Margins Didn't Improve

Revenue climbed to $15.5 billion, from $12.8 billion a year ago. Analysts expected revenue of $15.2 billion. However, gross margin, which was closely watched due to high component prices, did not improve.

"We continue to strengthen our portfolio of data-center solutions at an aggressive pace, with the addition of key IP, talent and technology," Chairman and CEO Michael Dell said in a statement. "This quarter's results are a strong reflection of the progress we've made, and we remain very focused on delivering the best possible solutions and services to meet our customers' IT needs."

CFO Brian Gladden added, "We are positioned well to continue benefiting from the global corporate refresh underway in client and enterprise systems."

Looking ahead, the company said it believes that corporate demand in client and enterprise systems will continue through the next several quarters. For the third quarter, the company expects seasonal improvements from federal government sales and commercial businesses, resulting in a pickup in the low single digits.

Dell reiterated the outlook it provided in June, anticipating revenue growth for the year of 14% to 19% and operating income growth of 18% to 23%.

Acquisitions and Setbacks

Dell is indeed trying. On Monday, Dell said it has agreed to buy storage technology firm 3Par (PAR). It also announced a new tablet computer last week. But there have been setbacks as Michael Dell and his company settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission recently.

Also, founder Michael Dell, who returned to run his namesake company in 2007, received a vote of no-confidence this week when more than 25% of the voting shares withheld their support for his reelection.

Dell shares have fallen some 16% year-to-date. In after-hours trading, shares moved 2% lower.