NEW YORK -- Dell ( DELL) posted earnings on Thursday that came in below analysts' forecasts but the PC maker's revenue topped estimates. Dell's Enterprise Solutions group booked a solid increase in revenue during the quarter, while hardware sales were dismal. The company posted adjusted earnings of 21 cents a share, falling short of analysts' estimates of 35 cents a share. Dell reported first-quarter revenue of $14.1 billion, a 2% decrease from the prior year, but higher than consensus expectations of $13.5 billion. The Enterprise Solutions group's successful first quarter threw weight behind activist investor Carl Icahn's bid to overtake Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell's $13.65 a share offer to take the PC maker private. The numbers highlighted Icahn's argument that Dell's bid sharply undervalued the company's potential to become a serious enterprise computing company. Meanwhile, the poor performance in hardware sales during the quarter gave credence to Dell's argument that a turnaround can't occur under the harsh light of the public eye, where calls for spinoffs have grown louder. Icahn and Dell Both Gain From Dell EarningsJ.C. Penney ( JCP) on Thursday posted a first-quarter loss of $348 million, or $1.58 a share. The adjusted loss for the quarter totaled $289 million, or $1.31 a share, which includes charges related to the retailer's restructuring and management transition. The retailer disclosed last week that total sales for the quarter fell 16.4% from last year to $2.64 billion. J.C. Penney also said comparable-store sales declined by about 16.6% during the quarter. JCPenney Reports Loss, Tumbles After-MarketNordstrom ( JWN) said Thursday that net income in the first quarter declined 3%, hurt by weak demand for spring merchandise and softer performance in the Northeast and Midwest. The retailer also lowered its revenue guidance for the year. Autodesk's ( ADSK) adjusted first-quarter earnings were below Wall Street expectations, revenue declined 3%, and the software company on Thursday issued a weak second-quarter forecast. Adjusted earnings were 42 cents a share. Revenue fell to $570.4 million from $588.6 million a year earlier, Analysts were calling for earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $583.6 million. Aruba Networks ( ARUN), the wireless communications company, posted a loss in its fiscal third quarter as customers delayed orders because of the weak global economy. Stage Stores ( SSI) is expected by Wall Street on Friday to post first-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Joseph Woelfel >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.