PC market slump dings Dell Q1 profit

Reporting its first quarter earnings five days earlier than expected, Dell reported a dismal first quarter as a result of the continued crumbling of the PC market.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

As the PC market continues to spiral downwards, the world's third largest PC maker is tumbling down with it.

Dell on Thursday reported its first quarter earnings five days earlier than expected, due to a report by The Wall Street Journal detailing leaked numbers on Monday.

The PC maker reported $372 million on revenue of $14.07 billion, or 21 cents a share. 

According to average analyst estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters, Dell was expecting to report net income of $607.10 million on revenue of $13.5 billion, or 35 cents per share. 

The Journal said Dell would exceed revenue expectations with $14 billion, yet miss on earnings-per-share at 20 cents per share on a non-GAAP basis.

Breaking down the figures:

  • The firm's Enterprise Solutions Group generated $3.1 billion in revenue, a 10 percent increase year-over-year. While the unit's server and networking revenue increased by 16 percent, its storage revenue decline by 10 percent.
  • Dell Services grew marginally by 2 percent to $2.1 billion, but applications and business process services declined by 15 percent. Meanwhile, Dell Software's unit resulted in an overall operating loss. The company said the unit is on track to be accretive to earnings during in two years' time.
  • Dell's PC building unit, the End User Computing unit, saw $8.9 billion in revenue, a 9 percent decrease. Its mobility revenue dinged the unit the most, dropping from $4.3 billion to $3.6 billion in the space of one year.
  • The company ended the quarter with $13.2 billion in cash, including investments.
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Image: Dell

Dell chief financial officer Brian Gladden said the company was "confident" in its overall strategy, as the firm prepares to go private in the coming months. He elaborated in prepared remarks:

We have taken actions to improve our competitive position in key areas of the business, especially in end-user computing, and it has affected profitability. We’ll also continue to make important investments to support our strategy and drive long-term profitability.

It's not a huge surprise that Dell's first quarter earnings are weak, based on results from previous quarters.

The PC market is slipping while the post-PC market continues to expand. Dell missed a beat by failing to embrace post-PC devices as quickly as other manufacturers. 

Earlier this year, the company projected a modest growth in the PC industry, in line with Windows 8's release. But in denying that the traditional PC is on its way out, its forecasts didn't line up with what's actually happening on the front line.

Also, in its bid to take itself off the stock market, it's opened its books up to financial scrutiny. And some who have put in offers for the firm aren't happy.

Dell put the wheels in motion to go private back in February. Company founder and chief Michael Dell and investment firm Silver Lake offered $24.4 billion, or $13.65 per share. Microsoft offered $2 billion to the buy-out pot. 

A month later, the Blackstone Group offered to buy Dell for $25 billion, but shortly after pulled its proposal citing a 14 percent drop in PC shipments and the company's "rapidly eroding financial profile." By this point, it was clear that Dell's financial position was worse as it continues to expand its software and services portfolio and datacenter hardware footprint.

In the year to date, Dell's share price has risen by as much as 43 percent, but dipped and leveled out around the $13 per share mark in recent weeks. The PC maker closed down slightly at $13.43 a share. 

Image: Google Finance

Given the company's plans to go private, Dell did not provide an outlook for the second quarter.

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