Dell's profit dives as billionaire battle rages on
By Poornima Gupta and Edwin Chan
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Dell Inc, the subject of a takeover battle between activist investor Carl Icahn and the company's billionaire founder, reported a 79 percent slide in profit as personal computer sales continued to shrink.
The disappointing results lend weight to Michael Dell's effort. The man who started Dell from a college dorm room wants to take the world's No.3 PC maker private for $24.4 billion, arguing that its transformation into a provider of enterprise computing services, from mainly a computer maker in a shrinking market, is best done away from public scrutiny.
Reflecting that shift in focus, Dell said on Thursday that revenue from enterprise solutions, services and software jumped 12 percent to $5.5 billion, while overall revenue slipped 2 percent. Its "end-user computing division," linked to PC sales, slid 9 percent.
To augment its enterprise business and go head-to-head with more established players like International Business Machines Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co, Dell is investing heavily on research and sales to retain customers.
Icahn and major stakeholder Southeastern Asset Management, however, dismiss Michael Dell's go-private deal as too cheap for a company trying to become a major provider of enterprise computing. They are proposing new leadership and additional cash or stock for shareholders.
"Hardware margins were pretty abysmal, which should generally support (Michael) Dell's bid," said Morningstar analyst Carr Lanphier. "But Michael Dell's strategy is also to be aggressive in pricing, to win key contracts."
"It doesn't seal the case one way or the other."
A FUTURE Continued...