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Stocks to Watch: Dell, J.C. Penney, Autodesk

Joseph Woelfel

NEW YORK -- Dell posted earnings on Thursday that came in below analysts' forecasts but the PC maker's revenue topped estimates.

Dell's Enterprise Solutions group booked a solid increase in revenue during the quarter, while hardware sales were dismal.

The company posted adjusted earnings of 21 cents a share, falling short of analysts' estimates of 35 cents a share. Dell reported first-quarter revenue of $14.1 billion, a 2% decrease from the prior year, but higher than consensus expectations of $13.5 billion.

The Enterprise Solutions group's successful first quarter threw weight behind activist investor Carl Icahn's bid to overtake Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell's $13.65 a share offer to take the PC maker private. The numbers highlighted Icahn's argument that Dell's bid sharply undervalued the company's potential to become a serious enterprise computing company.

Meanwhile, the poor performance in hardware sales during the quarter gave credence to Dell's argument that a turnaround can't occur under the harsh light of the public eye, where calls for spinoffs have grown louder.

Icahn and Dell Both Gain From Dell Earnings

J.C. Penney on Thursday posted a first-quarter loss of $348 million, or $1.58 a share.

The adjusted loss for the quarter totaled $289 million, or $1.31 a share, which includes charges related to the retailer's restructuring and management transition.

The retailer disclosed last week that total sales for the quarter fell 16.4% from last year to $2.64 billion. J.C. Penney also said comparable-store sales declined by about 16.6% during the quarter.

JCPenney Reports Loss, Tumbles After-Market

Nordstrom said Thursday that net income in the first quarter declined 3%, hurt by weak demand for spring merchandise and softer performance in the Northeast and Midwest.

The retailer also lowered its revenue guidance for the year.

Autodesk's adjusted first-quarter earnings were below Wall Street expectations, revenue declined 3%, and the software company on Thursday issued a weak second-quarter forecast.

Adjusted earnings were 42 cents a share. Revenue fell to $570.4 million from $588.6 million a year earlier,

Analysts were calling for earnings of 45 cents a share on revenue of $583.6 million.

Aruba Networks , the wireless communications company, posted a loss in its fiscal third quarter as customers delayed orders because of the weak global economy.

Stage Stores is expected by Wall Street on Friday to post first-quarter earnings of 9 cents a share.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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