updated 3/1/2007 5:16:12 PM ET 2007-03-01T22:16:12

Dell Inc. saw its fourth-quarter profits plunge Thursday in what the struggling computer maker called a preliminary earnings report due to an ongoing federal investigation of the company’s finances.

Dell said it earned $673 million, or 30 cents per share in the quarter ended Feb. 2, compared to $1.01 billion, or 43 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue fell 4 percent, to $14.4 billion.

Analysts had expected the PC maker to earn 29 cents per share in the most recent quarter, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

The company didn’t provide year-ago figures in its release. Dell’s earnings statements from the second and third quarters also remain preliminary and have yet to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission because of an ongoing federal accounting probe.

“We are disappointed with the company's results, but what matters is our future plan of action. We are systematically moving to increase efficiencies, improve execution and transform the company,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell said in a release. “Our business model will become more aligned with the needs of our customers, which will improve their experience and yield improved growth and profitability for the long-term.”

Dell shares closed up 16 cents to $23.01 Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Its shares have ranged from $18.95 to $30.80 in the past year.

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