Dell Computer Reaffirms Its Earnings Outlook

Dell Computer Corp. on Thursday reaffirmed its financial guidance for its fiscal third quarter, saying it was winning new customers and successfully managing its operating expenses. 

Dell, the No. 1 personal computer maker, said in mid-August that it was targeting earnings of 15 cents to 16 cents per share on revenue of $7.2 billion to $7.6 billion for the third quarter ending Nov. 2. 

For the third quarter, analysts on average have expected Dell to report revenues of $7.27 billion and earnings of 15 cents per share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. 

Dell stock jumped in trading before the opening bell, rising to $22 in early trading on the Nasdaq, up from their close of $20.64 on Wednesday. 

Dell, which plans to announce its results Nov. 15., cautioned that one-third of its third quarter remained. The company overtook Compaq Computer Corp. this year as the largest personal computer maker. 

Michael Dell, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement the company expects to make further share gains in all product categories, customer segments and regional markets during the current quarter. 

The reaffirmation from Dell came a day after the head of Internet gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. said he was comfortable with analysts' estimates for first-quarter results. The statement boosted not only Cisco's stock but the whole sector. 

Investors have battered technology stocks in recent weeks amid concerns that repercussions from the attacks of Sept. 11 -- including shipping problems and a newborn hesitancy among some companies to upgrade computers -- have shattered a fragile recovery in the already ravaged industry. 

Personal computer sales are expected to fall for the first time this year after many years of abundant growth, as a shaky economy, plunging prices, and weaker demand for electronics combined to foil what were once ambitious and nearly limitless hopes for continued growth. 

Michael Dell said while conditions in the computer-systems industry remain difficult, the company's strategic, operating and financial position ``is better than it's ever been.'' 

``We're winning new customers at a rapid rate and successfully managing our operating expenses,'' he said in a statement. ``Those strengths in the midst of a trying period give us great confidence for the long term.''