A muted set of fourth-quarter numbers and a Q1 forecast that lagged Wall Street's expectations put a dent in Dell's share price yesterday.
For the three months to 3 February, the Texan PC maker saw revenue rise two per cent year on year to $16bn (£10.2bn). However, Q4 operating profit took a 19 per cent annual nosedive and stood at $931m.
Across the whole of last year, sales rose one per cent to $61.5bn, while operational income spiked 29 per cent to $4.4bn.
In a conference call with analysts and investors, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, Dell chief financial officer Brian Gladden claimed that the hard-disk drive shortage had hit the firm in Q4.
"While we were effective in shaping demand and pricing for hard-drive cost increases, we were impacted by the available mix of drives," he said. "We prioritised high-end drives to relationship customers, resulting in a product mix that was less profitable than normal in consumer and our after-point-of-sale hard-drive business.
"For the first quarter, and consistent with what you've heard from others in the industry, we're still seeing some uncertainty in hard-disk supply and pricing. We expect drive mix management to continue to be challenging but not as impactful as in the fourth quarter."
For the first quarter of the new fiscal year, Dell expects sales to drop seven per cent sequentially to about $14.9bn. This falls below analysts' reported estimates of $15bn-plus, and the disparity contributed to the vendor's stock price falling almost five per cent in after-hours trading yesterday.
But Dell is anticipating some bright spots this year, which are set to include the server market. Chief executive Michael Dell (pictured) claimed that the launch of Intel's 10Gbit-enabled Romley chip will fuel strong sales.
"What we're seeing is the replacement cycle actually accelerating a bit on servers," he said. "And the reason is that the gains in processor and the combination effect of what's going on in I/O and solid-state, flash, the 10Gbit Romley. This is all allowing for much more intense virtualisation loads. So we're excited about our 12G server launch, which is coming in the first quarter."
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