Dell Laptop Explodes at Yahoo Office; ThinkEquity Says Dell May Pre-Announce

| About: Dell Inc. (DELL)

Bad enough that Yahoo’s (NASDAQ:YHOO) stock has been toasted this week. Now it turns out that a Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) laptop with a Sony (NYSE:SNE) battery caught fire in one of their offices Wednesday afternoon, according to Engadget.

The fire lead to a temporary evacuation of hundreds of Yahoo employees, Engadget reports.

Plenty of pictures of the crispy-fried laptop on Yahoo-owned Flickr, including the one below, from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield:

Can things get any worse for stumbling Dell (DELL)? Why, yes, they can. And they are, according to Eric Ross, an analyst at ThinkEquity Partners. Ross this morning dropped his price target on Dell to $17 from $18, repeated his Sell rating on the stock and warned that Dell’s “PC units and profitability are declining rapidly below expectations.” Ross says he continues to consider Dell “the best short play in our Universe,” by which of course he means the stocks he covers, as opposed to the known universe. Somewhere out there, maybe on the fluffy planet, there might be a better short. But Ross hasn’t discovered it yet.

Ross writes this morning that Dell appears to be seeing weaker sales the other major PC makers, and “is likely” to lose market share. He also says that he “heard” that Dell’s profitability for consumer PCs is running below plan, with corporate PCs running well below plan. “The aggressive PC price war is largely to blame, in our opinion,” he reports.

Meanwhile, Ross also says that he expects Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) “to drastically lower its market budget to Dell to essentialy zero.” Ross says his sources suggest that “Intel is in the process of reducing its marketing budget with Dell from several hundred million dollars per quarter to essentially zero.” Ross says this “will likely negatively impact Dell’s operating margins as these marketing expenses will no longer be offset (and should improve Intel’s operating expenses.”

Finally, Ross says he thinks Dell could pre-announce the October quarter by the middle of next month. “Although the quarter is only half over, we believe it will be very difficult to make up the declines seen thus far in the October quarter,” he says. “We would expect Dell to preannounce lower expectations in mid-October - if the company follows past actions. it will attempt to bury its pre-announcement in earnings season.”

Ross today trimmed his fiscal 2007 earnings estimate to 99 cents a share from $1.10; he cut his fiscal 2008 number to $1.05 a share from $1.20. He trimmed revenue projections for both periods as well.

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