Dell Inc. (DELL), the world's largest personal computer maker, Thursday posted a higher quarterly profit, helped by market share gains and lower component costs despite slowing demand for corporate PCs.

But Dell shares fell slightly in after-market trading as the company's revenue forecast for the current quarter was slightly below average Wall Street forecasts.

The company continued to take share from rivals large and small alike, analysts said, amid a tough environment for percent in the year-earlier third quarter.

"They gained market share in Europe and Asia even as the overall market slowed," said Barry Jaruzelski, lead partner in Booz Allen Hamilton's (search) global technology and electronics practice. "It's a positive but not go-go year for PCs but Dell once again is getting its disproportionate share."

Third-quarter net income rose to $846 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with the year earlier quarter's $677 million, or 26 cents per share.

Analysts, on average, were looking for the company to report a profit of 33 cents per share, with estimates in a tight range between 33 cents and 34 cents, according to a survey by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue for the Round Rock, Texas-based company rose 18 percent to $12.50 billion from $10.62 billion.

The revenue was roughly in line with the consensus Wall Street forecast of $12.53 billion, according to analysts surveyed by Reuters Research.

Looking ahead, Dell said it expects revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter ending in January, 2005 of $13.5 billion, an increase of 17 percent, and earnings per share of 36 cents, up 24 percent increase.

Analysts, on average, had forecast revenue for the current quarter ending in January of $13.57 billion, with estimates ranging between and $13.37 billion and $13.89 billion, according to the Reuters Research brokers' survey.

The earnings forecast was in line with the consensus of 36 cents per share among analysts surveyed by Reuters Estimates.

In printers, where Dell is going head-to-head with rival Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), the company said it is doing well, predicting it will sell more than 5 million printers in 2004.

"For Dell, printers is all gravy because everything they do there just comes out of HP's hide," Jaruzelski said.

Shares of Dell rose 40 cents per share to close at $37.25 in regular session trading on the Nasdaq, just off of $37.80, a four-year high for the stock. In after-hours trade on INET, the stock fell to $37.05.

Dell is up 10 percent so far this year and has outperformed all its major competitors and the major U.S. stock indices.