updated 11/20/2009 4:12:58 PM ET 2009-11-20T21:12:58

Dell Inc. said Thursday that its net income dropped 54 percent in the latest quarter and amid signs the company isn't fully benefiting from the computer industry's fledgling recovery.

Dell's numbers missed Wall Street's forecasts, and the shares fell almost 6 percent in extended trading.

In the last quarter Dell lost its ranking as the world's No. 2 personal computer maker, a slot now held by Taiwan's Acer Inc. Dell rivals such as Acer and Hewlett-Packard Co. have stolen market share in part by exploiting their bigger presence in retail stores. That has been a big weapon because consumer interest in little laptops called "netbooks" has helped the PC industry start to pull out of its worst slump in years.

Instead, Dell gets the overwhelming majority of its business from corporations, government agencies and other large institutions, which have remained hesitant to spend money on new technology.

Dell said Thursday that it is seeing improvement in some areas, but repeated its earlier prediction that a meaningful rebound in technology spending by businesses won't come until next year.

Dell said after the market closed that its net income was $337 million, or 17 cents per share, in the three months ended Oct. 30. Revenue fell 15 percent to $12.9 billion. That compares with $727 million, or 37 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected Dell to earn 28 cents per share on $13.2 billion in revenue in the latest quarter.

Dell, which is based in Round Rock, Texas, said it expects revenue in the current period to be better than in the prior quarter, but it attributes that to the seasonal benefit of consumers buying PCs around the holidays.

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