The company, based in Round Rock, Texas, remains profitable, despite its retreat.
Dell earned $475 million, or 27 cents per share, for the three-month period end Nov. 2. That represented a 47 percent decline from net income of $732 million, or 42 cents per share, at the same time last year.
If not for certain expenses and accounting charges unrelated to its ongoing business, Dell said it would have earned 39 cents per share. That was a penny below the average estimate among analysts polled by FactSet.
The company's third-quarter revenue missed analysts' targets by about $170 million.
In the current quarter Dell expects revenue to increase by 2 to 5 percent from the third quarter. That implies fourth-quarter revenue will come in 10 to 13 percent lower than the comparable quarter in the previous year. Part of the difference steams from this year's fourth quarter having one less week than the previous year. But Dell also expects to book an additional $180 million to $200 million from its recent $2.4 billion acquisition of Quest Software, which didn't contribute to last year
Dell reaffirmed a previous forecast calling for full-year adjusted earnings per share of at least $1.70.
The company is trying to cope with the downturn in its PC business by expanding into selling software, technology consulting, data storage and computer servers to big companies and government agencies. All those specialties produce higher profit margins than selling PCs and printers.
Dell's servers and networking business posted an 11 percent gain from last year. It was helped by several acquisitions.
Meanwhile, Consumers showed little interest in Dell's laptop and desktop computers, largely because they tend to be higher price than other PCs relying on the Windows operating system. The company said it suffered an operating loss of $65 million selling its devices to consumers during the third quarter, contrasting with an operating profit of $99 million at the same time last year.