HP Beats Dell in PC Sales

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) continued to pull ahead of Dell Inc. in global PC sales during the fourth quarter of 2006, according to an industry report released Tuesday.

Dell was the only top-five vendor to ship fewer PCs in the fourth quarter of 2006 than in the same period of the previous year, reporting a decline of 8.6 percent to 9.6 million units, according to iSuppli Corp. In contrast, the global PC market grew 6.3 percent to 66.7 million for the quarter.

Dell is struggling to adjust to the resignation of its CEO in January, an accounting investigation by stock regulators, a shareholder lawsuit and sinking profits. However, HP also hit turbulence in 2006, with a corporate spying scandal that forced the resignation of Chairman Patricia Dunn. Still, Dell had built up such a large lead in annual sales that it held onto a thin, 0.3 percent lead over HP in market share for the full year of 2006.

That lead won't last long if current trends continue, said Matthew Wilkins, iSuppli's principal analyst for compute platforms, in a statement. Both HP and Acer grew much faster than the market as a whole, and could soon pass their rivals.

In the fourth quarter, HP had the greatest market share with 17.4 percent, followed by Dell at 14.5 percent, Lenovo at 7.1 percent, Acer at 6.6 percent and Toshiba at 3.7 percent. Those numbers placed the companies in the same rankings they held in the third quarter of 2006.

But ranked by their sales growth compared to the fourth quarter of 2005, Acer had the best term with a 42.7 percent increase, leading Toshiba, which had 21.3 percent, HP at 21.1 percent, Lenovo with 8.2 percent and Dell with its 8.6 percent loss. At that rate, HP will soon pass Dell for the number one spot, and Acer will soon pass Lenovo to become number three, Wilkins said.

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