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PC Meltdown Averted, Sort of: Gartner

NEW YORK, ( TheStreet) -- After forecasting a dramatic slump in PC sales early this year, Gartner has changed its tune, now calling for a modest gain in shipments.

Thanks to strong sales of netbooks and laptops in the third quarter, PC shipments won't suffer the sharpest decline in history of 11.9%. Instead, Gartner now says worldwide PC volume will grow 2.8% this year.

"Shipments in the third quarter of 2009 were much stronger than we expected, and that alone virtually guaranteed we would see positive growth this year," Gartner PC research chief George Shiffler said in a press release Monday.

But while the surprisingly strong volume shows spending has improved somewhat, the overall increase in cheaper computers sold will cut industry revenue by 10.7% this year, Gartner predicts.

The suddenly upbeat forecast gave shares of No. 1 PC maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ - Get Report) and its lagging peer Dell (DELL - Get Report) a slight boost early Monday. H-P was up 2% to $51, very close to its 52-week high. And Dell, which fell 10% Friday after a disappointing third quarter performance, rose 1% in premarket trading Monday.

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