SAN FRANCISCO -- And you thought it was bad three months ago.


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said late Thursday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell in half, as revenue dropped 16% from a year earlier.

The Round Rock, Texas, computer maker's top line missed analysts' average estimate by about $750 million -- the upside being that three months ago Dell missed revenue estimates by $1 billion.

The company, which has seen demand plummet since last fall, didn't offer a specific forecast for the first quarter now underway, but its generalities weren't inspiring.

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"Dell believes that global IT end-user demand will continue to be uncertain and challenging. The company will maintain its focus on areas that it can control, especially those that benefit customers, including product quality, services and costs," it said in a press release. "The company expects to absorb organizational effectiveness expenses in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 at a similar level as in Q4, as Dell further streamlines its business to improve competitiveness."

Shares of Dell, which are just a few sessions removed from hitting their 52-week low, were up 19 cents to $8.40 in recent after-hours trading.

Dell's fourth-quarter profit fell to $351 million, or 18 cents a share, from $679 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included $134 million in "organizational effectiveness" (read: job cuts) and $143 million related to stock-based compensation.

Revenue fell to $13.4 billion from $16 billion a year earlier.

As bleak as Dell's demand plunge was three months ago, it worsened in the fourth quarter. Dell said desktop revenue fell 27%, while mobility (notebook) revenue slumped 17%.

In its third quarter, the company's desktop revenue had fallen 14%, with a 3% rise in mobility revenue. Commercial sales in the company's Americas segment fell 17%.