Analysts Find Road to Dell Is Paved With Good Intentions

Two analysts run the same numbers but reach markedly different conclusions.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- I say tomato, you say ... what? Sometimes people just have to agree to disagree.

So it goes with

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

, whose stock was higher after a positive report from

Credit Suisse First Boston

. In a research note published today, analyst Michael Kwatinetz said Dell appears to be tracking "in line with our 38% revenue growth estimate" and that the stock should meet or beat CS First Boston's 15-cent-a-share earnings estimate.

But

PaineWebber

analyst Don Young said 38% revenue growth would probably be unsatisfactory to Dell, since it would be equal to what the company reported in the fourth quarter, when earnings were seen as a

disappointment. Kwatinetz was traveling and unavailable for comment.

While he thinks that Dell is performing "the best in the industry," Young said he is still nervous about the prospects among the PC makers in the upcoming quarters. He said Dell is trading off price and margin for revenue growth, and the response from competitors like

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and

Compaq

(CPQ)

will determine what happens in the industry in the coming quarters. Young expects to see revenue growth of 40% for Dell in its fiscal first quarter.

Dell is expected to report earnings of 16 cents a share for its quarter ending this month, according to

First Call

. The stock was up 1 7/16, or 3.5%, at 42 5/8.

Online Brokers Grow in Popularity

Despite well-publicized breakdowns and increased

margin requirements for some stocks, online brokerage use is surging, according to CS First Boston.

In a report released today, CS First Boston analyst Bill Burnham says online trading firms are poised for strong quarterly results. Based on analysis of market volumes, Burnham estimates the online trading industry "grew by 30% to 35% in terms of trades per day" during the first quarter, which was up from his 25% growth estimate at the end of February.

"This surge in online trading volumes came in spite of total market volumes that were up only 4.9% sequentially, indicating that the online trading industry continues to take market share," he writes.

Burnham said he expects the entire online trading industry to report higher-than-expected "top- and bottom-line results."

In early trading,

Ameritrade

(AMTD) - Get Report

was among the leading point gainers in the Nasdaq, with an increase of 8 5/16, or 13%, to 70 7/8.

E*Trade

(EGRP)

was up 3 3/4, or 6%, at 64 5/8, while

Schwab

(SCH)

was up 3 3/4, or 4%, at 98 and

National Discount Brokerage

(NDB)

was up 1 13/16, or 7%, at 29 1/4.

Aspect Comes Up Short

Shares of software developer

Aspect Development

(ASDV)

have tumbled today after the company warned on Friday that revenue and earnings will be "significantly below" Wall Street expectations due primarily to some large contract delays.

Aspect was downgraded by both CS First Boston and

BT Alex. Brown

today. It was down 14 23/32, or 66%, to 7 11/16.

In its report on Aspect today, CS First Boston said Aspect competitor

i2Technologies

(ITWO)

should be unaffected by the Aspect shortfall. CS First Boston recommended clients "use any weakness to add to or initiate positions" in the company. i2 Technologies dropped 2 3/16, or 8.5%, to 23 5/8.