- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SEATTLE (AP) - Personal computer maker Dell Inc. said Tuesday its net income more than doubled in the most recent quarter, as businesses spent more on computers, servers and other technology.

Net income soared to $927 million, or 48 cents per share, from $334 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding certain items, Dell earned 53 cents per share, blowing past Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast earnings of 36 cents per share.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $15.69 billion from $14.9 billion in the year-ago quarter. That’s less than the $15.75 billion analysts predicted.

Dell has been working to increase the proportion of server computers, data storage devices and technology consulting services it sells, because those areas are more profitable than the basic PC business. Compared with a year ago, however, each of Dell’s product categories accounted for about the same amount of revenue.

Revenue from large enterprises and from small and medium-size businesses rose 12 percent each to $4.7 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively.

Those increases helped Dell offset sluggish consumer spending on computers. Revenue from the consumer segment fell 8 percent to $3.3 billion. A year ago, Microsoft Corp.’s updated PC operating system, Windows 7, went on sale. In an interview, Dell Chief Financial Officer Brian said that he expects the computer business will remain weak this fiscal year, in part as people contemplate buying tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

Analysts are keeping a close eye on Dell’s gross margin, a measure of how efficient the business is. This quarter, gross margin was 21 percent, better than the 18.6 percent analysts expected.

Gladden said lower costs for components helped contribute to the stronger gross margin.

“Overall it was a pretty good quarter,” Gladden said.

For the full year, Dell said net income increased 84 percent to $2.64 billion, or $1.35 per share, from $1.43 billion, or 73 cents per share in the prior year.

Revenue rose 16 percent to $61.49 million from $52.9 million.

Shares jumped 76 cents, or 5.5 percent, to $14.67 in aftermarket trading after the earnings were released. In the regular session, the stock lost 18 cents to $13.91.