WITH AN AIR OF CONFIDENCE fueled by double-digit growth around the world, computer giant Dell Inc. told investors recently that it's well ahead of its goal to become a $60 billion company by 2007.
Dell executives said the company's direct-sales model, which saves money by cutting out retail stores, would ensure that its entire range of products-personal computers, business servers, printers, software, peripherals, and technology services-can keep growing at least 10 percent annually.
"We're clearly tracking ahead of $60 billion," founder Michael Dell said. The company reported revenues of $41 billion in its last full fiscal year, which ended Jan. 30.
Officials at the Round Rock, Texas-based company said they have begun seeing signs of a recovery in business spending.
Strong corporate sales helped Dell overtake rival Hewlett-Packard for the market-share lead in PC sales. According to industry analyst IDC, Dell's shipments increased 28 percent in the first quarter of 2004, while HP saw a 15.7 percent jump.
That translates into 18.6 percent of the worldwide market for Dell, compared to just 15.6 for Hewlett-Packard. IBM is third with 5.5 percent of the market, followed by Fujitsu Siemens and Acer.
Boeing takes off
Boeing finally landed a buyer for its 7E7 Dreamliner passenger jet. On April 26, Japan's All Nippon Airways ordered 50 planes, priced at $120 million each, marking the biggest initial order ever for one of Boeing's new models. The 7E7-the "E" stands for efficiency-is the first new airplane Boeing has introduced since launching the 777 in October 1990.
Since then, Boeing's commercial airplanes division has shelved two commercial jet programs, helping European archrival Airbus pull ahead of Boeing in jetliner deliveries last year for the first time.
Boeing says the Dreamliner will use 15 percent to 20 percent less fuel per passenger. It will have bigger windows and slightly wider aisles, and it will seat more people than other planes. Production will begin in 2006, with the airplanes expected to begin flying in 2008.
It can't come soon enough for the beleaguered aerospace giant. Embarrassing scandals have shaken the company in recent months, prompting former chief executive Phil Condit to resign. The government is investigating whether Boeing improperly received pricing information about Airbus to win a contract to supply 100 airborne tankers to the U.S. Air Force. Meanwhile, U.S. competitor Lockheed Martin has filed a lawsuit accusing Boeing of using proprietary information to win a $1.88 billion Air Force rocket launch contract.
Higher automotive profits and more cost-cutting helped Ford Motor Co. post a profit of $1.95 billion in the first quarter, more than double its earnings of a year ago, and prompted the nation's second-largest automaker to raise its earnings forecast for 2004.
Sales of new homes nationwide surged by 8.9 percent in March, the largest monthly increase in nine months, as mortgage rates remained low. Most of the new home sales occurred in the South, which saw an increase of 19.3 percent.
Sony Corp. is in talks to acquire film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. in a cash deal valued at around $5 billion. Sony would likely fold MGM, which holds more than 4,200 titles, into its Sony Pictures Entertainment division.
Dynegy Inc. and NRG Energy Inc. struck a deal to wipe out more than $280 million in unpaid electricity bills, California state officials said last week. The settlement resolves accusations that the companies overcharged customers during California's energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.
The $50 bill is the latest currency to receive a makeover from the Treasury Department, which wants to stop high-tech counterfeiters. Peach, blue, and yellow hues will join the familiar combination of green and black. The new notes, which also contain embedded security threads, watermarks, and color-shifting ink, will begin circulating by this fall.