Dell shares fall despite growing AI server business

Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, speaking at the Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 27, 2024.

Joan Cros | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Dell reported first-quarter earnings on Thursday that beat analysts’ estimates for earnings and sales, as the company has emerged as one of the top vendors for artificial intelligence servers. But, shares fell more than 15% in after-hours trading on concerns Dell’s AI servers aren’t making the company a lot of money yet.

Here is how Dell did compared to LSEG consensus estimates:

  • Earnings per share: $1.27 adjusted vs. $1.26 estimated
  • Revenue: $22.24 billion vs. $21.64 billion estimated

The company said it expected current-quarter earnings of $1.65 per share and between $23.5 billion and $24.5 billion of sales. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting $23.35 billion. Dell guided for between $93.5 billion and $97.5 billion in sales for the full fiscal year.

Dell reported $955 million in net income during the quarter, or $1.32 per diluted share, versus $578 million, or 79 cents, in the year-ago period. Overall sales during the quarter were up 6% on an annual basis.

Dell’s division including data center sales, called Infrastructure Solutions Group, saw sales rise 22% on an annual basis to $9.2 billion. The company said servers were a fast-growing unit, with sales rising 42% to $5.5 billion, and called out strong demand for AI servers. Still, the unit’s year-on-year operating profits were flat, “resurfacing concerns that AI servers are being sold at near-zero margins,” Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi said in a note to investors on Friday morning.

Dell has emerged as a top vendor for AI-oriented servers, which are in high demand as companies invest in infrastructure for predictions and generative AI. Earlier this year, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang called out Dell founder Michael Dell at a conference as the person to contact to place orders for the company’s new chips.

Dell said it recorded $2.6 billion of “AI-optimized” server orders during the quarter.

Before Thursday’s report, Dell shares had more than doubled in 2024.

Dell’s division for PCs and laptops, called Client Solutions Group, showed flat growth on an annual basis with sales of $12.0 billion.

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