Dell Meets Revised Earnings Estimates for 4th Quarter - TheStreet

Updated from 5:20 p.m. EST

Dell Computer

(DELL) - Get Report

reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday in line with its own earnings warning to investors late last month.

The company beat Wall Street estimates, reporting fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $436 million, or 16 cents a diluted share, compared with a consensus forecast for 15 cents a share by analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

. First Call had revised its estimates downward from 21 cents a share after the company warned that it expected earnings to come in around 16 cents a share.

The latest quarter's results were little changed from the fiscal fourth-quarter a year earlier, when Dell earned $425 million, or 15 cents a diluted share.

The earnings, reported after the bell, clipped part of the substantial gains that Dell racked up during the regular trading session. In after-hours trading Thursday, Dell fell nearly 1 point, to 37 7/8, according to

Instinet

, after rising 3 15/64, or 9.1%, to close at 38 51/64 at 4 p.m. EST.

Revenues for Dell's fiscal-fourth quarter, which ended Jan. 28, rose 31%, to $6.8 billion, from $5.2 billion a year earlier.

Dell, which directly markets its own computer hardware, said earnings were hurt by semiconductor supply problems and a sluggish rebound in demand for its products after the Year 2000 bug failed to cause significant computer problems.

"A lot of customers planned for Y2K, but very few planned what to do after and a lot of them delayed purchasing through the first few weeks of January," said Michael S. Dell, the company's chairman and chief executive, in a conference call with analysts. But he said sales started to rise in the final weeks of January, which helped push net income slightly higher than the $430 million mentioned in the company's earnings warning on Jan. 26.

Over all, the company said the slow rebound in January computer demand cut about $500 million from its fourth-quarter estimates from last year. In additional, it said the "uneven and constrained supply of semiconductor components" cost the company about $300 million in lost sales.

"Things have significantly improved with the component situation over the past few weeks," Thomas J. Meredith, Dell's chief financial officer. But he warned that the company is still wary of semiconductor supply problems because of the wide swings it can cause with the availability of Dell products.

Meredith said he expected revenues in the next fiscal year to be in the low 30% range.

The component shortages that led to Dell's shortfalls echo those of competitor

Gateway

(GTW)

, which also warned on earnings and came in lower than preliminary expectations for its fourth quarter.

Dell reported that shipments of its products rose 36% in the fourth quarter and 50% for the year, making it the No. 2 computer seller in the world behind

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

For the full year ended Jan. 28, the company earned $1.9 billion, or 68 cents a share, excluding a charge associated with the purchase of

ConvergeNet Technologies

. That compares to the prior year, when the company earned $1.5 billion, or 53 cents a share.