Dell Inc. on Tuesday reported a 31% drop in profit, hurt by a shrinking consumer business, as investors weighed founder Michael Dell’s offer to buy out the world’s No.3 maker of personal computers.
Michael Dell, teaming up with private equity firm Silver Lake and software maker Microsoft Corp., is offering $13.65 a share to buy out the company, but at least four of its largest investors are opposed to the $24.4 billion deal.
The founder and CEO did not join in management discussion of the results in a conference call with analysts, given his participation in the buyout. Dell executives also did not comment on the buyout.
Analysts said Dell’s rapidly shrinking business and murky prospects in a declining PC market may make the buyout a more attractive option for investors tired of waiting for a turnaround.
Since news of the proposed buyout emerged in January, the stock has gained almost 30%—a rally that analysts say may evaporate should the deal fall through.
On Tuesday, the company said sales across every business line, except servers and networking, declined in the fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue from servers and networking climbed 18%, driven by its datacenter business and revenue from recently acquired companies such as Quest Software and Sonic Wall.
Overall, however, revenue slid 11%.
“There isn’t anything really to be super excited about,” Brian Marshall, analyst with ISI Group, said, adding that declining revenue and profit doesn’t bode well for the company.
“The (buyout) deal makes sense. It will go through,” he said. “They will probably have to pay a little more than $13.65 to get it done but at the end of the day there aren’t a lot of options out there.”
The company gave no financial forecast for fiscal 2014 or the fiscal first quarter, citing the proposed buyout.
The company reiterated that it plans to file a proxy statement with the US securities regulators on the merger agreement but made no other reference to the buyout in its earnings release.
Shareholders representing almost 14% of Dell shares not held by Michael Dell have now said they will vote against the deal. The billionaire, who created the computer maker from his college dorm room in 1984, holds a roughly 16% stake and needs a majority of shareholders—excluding him—to vote for the deal.
Some are holding out hope for a higher offer. Peter Misek, analyst with Jefferies, said a bumped-up offer of about $15 per share was a “fair price.”
“The better-than-expected results means that’s the fair thing to do, in our opinion, is to raise the bid to a price where current shareholders reap some of the rewards while the take-private consortium enjoys the prospect of a respectable return,” Misek said.