Michael Dell, chairman and founder of Dell Computer, sold 1.2 million shares in a planned quarterly sale that coincided with a rare drop in stock value.
The shares yo-yoed last month, leaping to a 52-week high at $98.50 and dropping to $78. They then rose to the sale price of $82.62.
Vice chairman Morton Topfer also shed stock, selling 200,000 shares, or 12% of his total holdings. It was bad timing for them but both men are solidly upbeat about Dell's future prospects.
Rival PC manufacturers are falling over themselves to generate demand and the result is plummeting prices. Even Dell must be feeling the pressure to cut prices, but Michael Dell and Topfer have their sights set on Europe and the rest of the world. They told Reuters that Europe is expected to drive growth this year.
With just over a third of total sales coming from non-US markets, both Dell and Topfer anticipate strong European revenues, and with planned expansion into China and South America, Dell should generate an extra $1 billion in sales over the next few years.
Holding just over eight percent of the European market means there's plenty room for expansion, and the first quarter saw an exponential 62 per cent growth taking sales up to $1 billion. Analysts expect Dell to generate revenues of a remarkable $18 billion during 1999.
Dell is building a Chinese manufacturing facility due to open later this year. China represents only $100 million revenues today, and Topfer said: "China is growing 40 to 50 per cent a year. In two or three years it could be one of the top five countries in the world."
The same applies to South America where Dell has little or no presence. It is opening a new Brazilian plant next year, and Topfer commented: "[that market] is growing 20 to 25 percent a year."
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