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Dell Sales Rise But Profit Slips On Tax Charge

DALLAS (AP) -- Dell Inc. set a record for sales and topped Wall Street's earnings expectations in the fourth quarter, but the personal computer juggernaut indicated that revenue for early 2005 could fall short of analysts' predictions.

That cautious forecast caused Dell shares to fall $1.34, or 3.2 percent, in after-hours trading Thursday. Before the earnings report, the shares gained 58 cents to $41.57 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

``It's a stock that has expectations of perfection, and there were a couple areas that could be seen as variances to that,'' said Richard Chu, an analyst with SG Cowen, who judged the quarter overall to be another good one for Dell.

However, Dell's profit fell due to a tax charge. Dell said late Thursday that it earned $667 million or 26 cents per share in the quarter ended Jan. 28, compared to $749 million or 29 cents per share a year earlier.

The results included a charge of 11 cents per share because Dell expects to pay 5.25 percent U.S. taxes on $4.1 billion earned overseas. Dell plans to bring the profits home under a law passed by Congress last year.

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