Dell Growth Touching Bottom

Dell's ( DELL) growth rates have fallen as low as they can go.

At least that's what Goldman Sachs analyst Laura Conigliaro posits in a note to investors released Wednesday. After meeting with Dell CEO Kevin Rollins, Conigliaro said the company was not settling for single-digit revenue growth as it adjusts its financial model.

Dell's lackluster growth rates for the current quarter represent "the low-water mark," wrote Conigliaro. Over time, she said, "Dell would probably like to be able to get sustainable growth comfortably into double digits, our guess being somewhere between 12%-14%." (Goldman Sachs has received compensation for investment banking and noninvestment banking services from Dell within the past 12 months).

Dell's recent pronouncements concerning future growth rates have spooked investors, who have kept the stock hovering slightly above its 52-week low.

In February, Dell forecast that revenue growth in its current quarter would range between 6% and 9%, a far cry from the 15% to 20% growth Dell generated as recently as a year ago. The low end of Dell's newest revenue-growth range overlaps with the high end of the 4% to 6% growth rate built into Hewlett-Packard's ( HPQ) business model, despite the fact that H-P is working from a revenue base significantly larger than Dell's.

Of course, Dell keeping sales growth in the double-digit range will require pricing actions, noted Conigliaro. But she expects any price cuts to be surgical, rather than broad in scope, as was the case in 2001 and 2002.

Dell shares were up 46 cents at $29.46 in midday trading Wednesday.

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