Updated from 4:25 p.m. EDT
is sticking with its financial targets for the first quarter, calling for earnings of 37 cents a share and sales of $13.4 billion, while doubling its stock buyback during the period.
The world's largest computer maker made the announcement late Wednesday, a day ahead of a public presentation to analysts.
Wall Street had expected Dell to earn 37 cents a share and sales of $13.4 billion, on average, according to Thomson First Call.
Some had attributed the market's late selloff into Wednesday's close to nervousness ahead of Thursday's analyst conference. The mood lightened after the bell, with Dell trading up 1.2% to $38.54 after ending the regular session down 2.5%.
Dell said it expects to repurchase $2 billion of its stock during the current period, which ends in April. The company's stock hit a four-and-a-half year peak of $42 in late December, but has drifted lower this year.
Thursday's meeting, which will be Webcast starting at 9 a.m. EDT, will focus on how the company plans to increase annual revenue in three to four years to $80 billion, up from $49 billion last year.
The exact time frame for reaching $80 billion in annual sales had not been stated before. Dell says it wants to emphasize growth in network servers, storage systems, printing and imaging, and mobile computing, as well as services.
The growth areas will further increase Dell's competition with
Dell's efficiencies in supply chain management and manufacturing has enabled it to capture a dominant share of the computer market through direct sales of low-priced boxes. With that market firmly in its grasp, Dell has turned to international markets and computer-related products, like printers and servers.
This has Dell targeting H-P's main profit center of printers and imaging devices. These products made up 30% of H-P's sales last year, but more importantly, printers and imagers accounted for 73% of its profit.
IBM, too, which
sold off its PC division late last year, has stepped up its efforts in capturing business among small- and medium-sized corporate clients. IBM has focused for the longest time on meeting all the technology needs of the largest corporations, but small and medium businesses are sometimes well suited for plugging and playing Dell's servers and workstations through their direct sales channel.
Dell's strategy is designed to find profits outside of its primary sales base.
Dell is being helped, too, by the disarray surrounding H-P and Sun. H-P
just named a new chief executive following a two-month search and a very public separation from its previous leader. And Sun has just undergone another transformation and is now
betting its future on handling the computing needs of its corporate clients remotely. And while IBM has momentum on its side in the form of recent execution and market share gains, Dell's efficiency can't be ignored.
Dell says its plans to build its top line to $80 billion don't include any degradation in its bottom line, with profitability and cash flow growing at an even faster rate than sales.
"Our growth and profitability are based on a disciplined approach to defining new product and service categories, accelerating growth in existing businesses, and extending the value we create for customers in all of those areas," said Dell CEO Kevin Rollins in a statement Wednesday.