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Dell reaffirms first-quarter outlook

At its analyst meeting on Thursday, PC maker will detail short- and long-term goals.

PC maker Dell aims to hit $80 billion in annual revenue in three to four years, the company said Wednesday.

In a statement, Dell said executives will discuss that goal at its analyst meeting on Thursday, as well as reaffirm its first fiscal-quarter revenue forecast of about $13.4 billion and its earnings-per-share prediction of 37 cents.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker first discussed the $80 billion goal last February, during its fourth fiscal quarter 2005 earnings call. At that time, Kevin Rollins, Dell's CEO, said the company was on track to meet its original goal of attaining $60 billion in annual revenue a year earlier than it had planned and thus needed to set an even bigger goal.

Dell reached $49 billion during its fiscal 2005, which ended in January. Most analysts believe the company will hit the $60 billion mark during calendar 2006, a year earlier than expected. But it will have a fair amount of work to do to reach the $80 billion mark.

PCs still a dominant driver
Dell's plan for reaching $80 billion will include selling more servers, storage systems, printing and imaging products and mobile computing products, as well as packaging them with services, the company said a statement. But analysts still expect PCs to continue to be a major contributor to Dell's future growth.

"For the foreseeable future...PCs will remain the dominant revenue driver in Dell's business," said Brooks Gray, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

Gray predicts that Dell will hit the $80 billion mark during calendar 2009, and that even at that time about 59 percent of its revenue will come from PCs.

At the Thursday meeting, Dell executives, including Rollins, will discuss the company's goals to expand.

"Our growth and profitability are based on a disciplined approach to defining new product and service categories, accelerating growth in existing businesses, and extending the value we create for customers in all of those areas," Rollins said Wednesday.

During the calendar fourth quarter, Dell ranked as the world's largest PC maker, after growing its shipments by about 21 percent worldwide to corner 17 percent of the market, according to IDC. Hewlett-Packard had 16 percent of the market, a growth rate of 9 percent, IDC said.

Dell had initially told analysts in February to expect "at least $900 million" in share repurchases this quarter.

It said it now plans to spend $2 billion on buybacks. Share buybacks help Dell offset the dilutive effect on earnings of employee stock options and boost reported earnings.

The company said it planned to spell out a timeline for when it expects to reach $80 billion in annual revenue, but did not offer details on the plan in its statement. Dell executives will provide them Thursday.

Several Wall Street analysts have predicted Dell can reach its target over a three-year timeframe. That would translate into a compound annual growth rate of around 17.5 percent to 18 percent.

Reuters contributed to this report.