Dell earnings fall 31 per cent in the fourth quarter as PC market stays weak, buyout looms

ROUND ROCK, Texas – Dell Inc. on Tuesday posted another quarter of declining sales and profits, the type of results that have disenchanted shareholders and prompted a buyout agreement.

Two weeks ago, Dell’s founder and CEO Michael Dell and a group of investors agreed to buy the company for $24.4 billion with a plan to turn it around. If the deal goes through, it will take the PC maker off the stock market after 25 years.

The company’s two largest shareholders after Michael Dell don’t think the offer is high enough, and plan to vote against the deal. The company’s conference call to discuss the quarterly earnings will mark Michael Dell’s first public remarks since the terms of the sale were announced.

Dell’s slump stems from weakening demand for PCs as more technology spending shifts toward smartphones and tablet computers.

The Round Rock, Texas company posted net income of $530 million, or 30 cents per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 1. That was down from $764 million, or 43 cents per share, in the quarter a year ago.

Excluding acquisition- and severance-related charges, earnings were 40 cents per share, beating by 1 cent the average forecast of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue was $14.3 billion, down 11 per cent from a year ago. It beat analyst expectations at $14.1 billion.

Dell’s stock gained 5 cents to $13.85 in extended trading after the financial results were released. That’s 20 cents above the buyout offer, indicating that investors believe there’s some chance of an improved bid.