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The news out of


(DELL) - Get Free Report

Wednesday that its top-line revenues were

light in its fourth quarter set the PC direct seller's stock spiraling downward for the first time in years. It was down more than 10 points at Wednesday's open, though it started to perk up later in the morning and was recently trading at 82 1/4.

The question is: Is this the beginning of the end for the PC makers? Since last fall, analysts at

Merrill Lynch

and elsewhere have been speculating that PC makers -- the leading growth engine for technology stocks this decade -- will cede their place in the technology hierarchy as they struggle to maintain the high-performance standards investors have come to expect. Are these analysts' predictions now coming true? Or will PC makers soon regain their throne?

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