Dell says SEC probe now formal, delays results

Computer maker says will deliver quarterly results by the end of the month, but says delay not linked to change in investigation.

NEW YORK ( -- Computer maker Dell Inc. announced Wednesday it would delay releasing its third-quarter results until later this month, and that it was under a formal probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dell (Charts) shares fell over 2 percent in after-hours trade on the news, after closing slightly higher in regular Nasdaq trading Wednesday.


The Texas-based firm, which was originally schedule to report its earnings Thursday, said the delay was not linked to the new development in the investigation.

The SEC had been conducting investigations into the company's accounting and financial reporting practices.

Dell was notified "recently" that the SEC had stepped up its investigation, which the agency had been conducting on an informal basis since August 2005, Dell spokesman Jess Blackburn told Reuters.

Dell said it would deliver preliminary results for its fiscal third quarter by the end of this month, but did not give an exact date. It also said future earnings announcements will be pushed back by approximately one week versus the company's original earnings schedule.

Dell, the second-largest PC maker, was due to report after the market close Thursday. Analysts expected Dell's earnings per share to sink 38 percent from the year-ago period to 24 cents a share. Revenue was expected to edge higher by 4 percent to $14.4 billion.

Dell said in August that while responding to the SEC's informal inquiries, it came across additional matters that required a separate review by its board's audit committee, according to Reuters.

The company later canceled a meeting with investors and analysts in New York and said it did not know whether the accounting reviews might have a material impact on its finances, Reuters reported. Dell in August had said it did not believe the accounting issues would have a material impact.

Rival Hewlett-Packard (Charts), which reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the worldwide PC market from Dell in the calendar third quarter this year, is scheduled to release its results Thursday. Last month, Apple Computer (Charts) reported a 27 percent increase in net income, partly due to strong sales of its Macintosh computers.

--from staff and wire reports

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