Dell posts strong quarter after Y2K sales slowdown

AUSTIN, Texas - First-quarter profit at Dell Computer rose 21 percent, topping Wall Street expectations, as the nation's largest direct seller of computers bounced back from a Y2K slowdown with a 33 percent gain in sales.

Dell yesterday reported a profit of $525 million, or 19 cents a share, during the three months ended April 28 compared with $434 million, or 16 cents a share a year earlier. Sales jumped to $7.28 billion compared with $5.54 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts had expected a profit of 16 cents in the latest quarter, according to a survey by First Call/Thomson Financial.

James Schneider, Dell's chief financial officer, attributed the strong showing to better-than-expected sales to businesses, lower operating costs and stable prices for computer parts. Dell also benefited from its growing focus on Internet services and products.