Dell sales fall ahead of buyout but beat forecasts

Dell laptop PC maker Dell has struggled as consumers have turned to smartphones and tablet computers

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Computer maker Dell has reported quarterly profits and revenues ahead of expectations, in what could be its last set of results as a public company.

The world's third largest PC maker said net profit in the fourth quarter fell 31% to $530m (£345m) compared with the same period a year ago.

Revenue fell 11% to $14.3bn, hurt by a shrinking consumer business, but still beat analysts' forecasts.

Founder Michael Dell has offered to buy the business for $24.4bn.

But his attempt to turn it back into a private firm has faced opposition.

Dell's largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, said the offer "grossly undervalues the company", while reports suggest other large investors also oppose the deal.

In recent years Dell has struggled to compete with cheaper Asian rivals, as well as the boom in smartphones and tablet computers, and has focused more on corporate needs and less on the home consumer.

For the full year ending 1 February 2013, net profit fell 32% to $2.37bn, while revenue fell 8% to $56.9bn.

Dell said that it was not providing an outlook for the 2014 fiscal year or for the first fiscal quarter, given the proposed merger agreement to take the company private.

Shares in Dell edged up 0.5% in after-hours trading in New York to $13.87.

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