Dell continues to disappoint
The computer maker has tried numerous turnaround strategies, but nothing seems to be sticking.
Dell (DELL) CEO Michael Dell has been trying to figure out what to do with the company he co-founded ever since he returned as captain of the ship in 2007. His ideas seem not to be working, as evidenced by Tuesday's disappointing earnings.
First he wanted to win over consumers with snazzy product designs like Apple (AAPL). "We are kind of in the fashion business," he told the Knowledge@Wharton website, run by the University of Pennsylvania's business school, in 2007. "We have been putting quite a bit more energy into this. It will be reflected in future products."
That didn't work.
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Dell lost the top spot in the PC market to Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) in 2006 and has struggled to regain lost ground ever since. The latest Gartner data show Dell ranked third in share of worldwide PC shipments at 11.6%, down from 12.2% a year earlier. China's Lenovo was second, with 13.5%, up from 11.1%. First-place Hewlett-Packard saw its share rise to 17.7% from 17.3%.
CEO Dell remains as enthusiastic about the PC business as ever. He even made fun of HP's plans -- later abandoned -- to exit the PC business. Dell, though, didn't put all his eggs in the PC basket.
As Bloomberg Businessweek reported, "Through a string of 10 acquisitions in less than two years, Dell has branched into areas such as IT services, computer networking, and data storage." That strategy hasn't panned out either.
IDC pegged Dell's server market share at 15.6% in the first quarter, down from 16% a year earlier. The top two companies in the market, HP and IBM, gained share.
Dell earned $893 million, or 49 cents per share, in the quarter ended Oct. 28. Excluding one-time items, it earned 54 cents -- 8 cents better than analysts had expected. The company, though, continues to struggle, and its quarterly revenue was little changed at $15.4 billion, missing the $16.2 billion consensus forecast.
During its conference call, the company forecast revenue growth for the year at the low end of its August guidance, which was an anemic 1% to 5%, partly due to a storage drive shortage. That forecast was a reduction from an earlier projection.
Dell trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.2, well under the 13.69 seen in the sector and the 19.55 for the industry, according to Reuters. The multiple is among its lowest in five years.
Nonetheless, there is little to recommend about the stock.
With the way Dell treated me over a billing dispute, they should go out business. Letters, calls produce frustration as they refuse to explain how they came to the disputed amount they said I owed them. It got to the point I just gave up trying to get it straighten out. Then the threats started. Pay up or else.
I bought an item and returned it. They gave me a credit for the item, In the next payment statement I notice the credit was removed and then they added the price of the item a second time into the bill. That was the beginning. I paid the balance off of my account minus the disputed amount. I wrote them asking them to explain the the debit, credit and debit, and if they could show me with the explanation that I owed them money I would pay. They kept billing me for the item adding late fees and penalties. A final letter telling them I wasn't going to pay until they explained how owed them money was sent. I never heard from them again They turned my account over to the first of the many collection agencies who contacted me.
All the collection agencies left me alone and dropped the collection once I sent them the paper and explained the dispute.
Dell is just a bad company to give your business to. They'll do back flips to get your business, but once they have it, good luck dealing with them.
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The company is planning a 10-for-1 split, which will cut its share price dramatically.
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