Dell Dives on Weak Quarter, Outlook (Update 2)

Updated from 5:30 p.m. ET to include additional comments from the conference call and updated share price.

ROUND ROCK, Tex. ( TheStreet) -- Dell ( DELL) shares plunged after the tech giant missed Wall Street's revenue and earnings estimates in its first-quarter results, citing a "challenging" economic environment.

The no. 2 PC maker brought in revenue of $14.42 billion, compared to $15 billion in the same period last year, and significantly below the average analysts' estimate of $14.91 billion.
Dell reported its first-quarter results after market close on Tuesday.

Excluding items, Dell earned 43 cents a share, down from 55 cents a share in the prior year's quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for earnings of 46 cents a share.

Dell's stock tanked 12% to $13.29 on volume of more than 4.15 million in extended trading as investors balked at the results. Shares of the Texas-based company closed Tuesday's session up 0.7% at $15.08.

"Our first-quarter results were mixed and we fell short of our own expectations," said Brian Gladden, the Dell CFO, during a conference call after market close, citing disappointing sales execution and macro-economic pressures. "There were some market dynamics that created headwinds for us."

Gladden pointed, in particular, to weakness in EMEA Europe, Middle East and Africa , parts of Asia and public sector.

The CFO added that Dell has already taken steps to improve its sales execution.

Gladden, however, also noted that Dell's notebook business contracted 10% during the quarter, in the face of fierce tablet competition. "We're seeing more consumer IT spending devoted to alternative mobile computing devices," he said.

The PC giant, which has been attempting to bolster its higher-margin offerings such as enterprise services, said that its strategic shift is proceeding apace.

"We continued to shift the mix of our business during a challenging environment," noted Gladden, in a statement released after market close. "Our enterprise solutions and services businesses now account for 50% of our gross margin, and we'll continue to make the necessary investments to maintain our progress."

Revenue from Dell's Enterprise Solutions and Services (ESS) grew 2% year-over-year to $4.5 billion. Excluding third-party storage, ESS revenue grew 5% compared to the prior year's quarter. Dell-owned storage revenue grew 24% to $423 million and server and networking revenue grew 2% over the same period.

Dell's overall numbers, however, were not completely out of the blue. Networking giant Cisco ( CSCO), for example, recently warned of weakness in Europe, the public sector and India.

Underlining concerns about the macro economy, Dell also offered up tepid second-quarter guidance, predicting revenue between $14.69 billion and $15 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for sales of $15.42 billion.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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