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Dell gets mixed reviews

Dell Computer encounters a mixed reception from credit-rating agencies and Wall Street.

Dell Computer (DELL) has encountered a mixed reception from credit-rating agencies and Wall Street.

Standard & Poor's today elevated Dell's credit rating to triple B-minus from double B and revised its outlook to stable from positive.

But Bear Stearns, a New York brokerage, yesterday downgraded its stock to "attractive" from "buy."

"We look at credit measures, and that's different from what the equity analysts review," said Molly Toll-Reed, an S&P director. "We come at it from the perspective that is this company able to meet its credit payments when they're owed, whereas equity analysts look at stock appreciation."

S&P upgraded Dell's rating based on the company's improved market position, consistent profitability, and strengthened financial forecast.

Toll-Reed cited Dell's expansion into the more profitable PC server market as a contributor to the company's anticipated strong revenue growth. She also notes that the company's manufacturing system based on mail orders and its efficient asset management should bring Dell an operating margin of around eight percent, excluding depreciation and amortization.