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What will Icahn say about Dell earnings beat?

August 15, 2013: 4:25 PM ET

icahn-vs-dellDell has a surprisingly strong quarter. Does that change the PR math?

FORTUNE -- Dell Inc. (DELL) today reported $14.48 billion in second quarter revenue and non-GAAP earnings of $0.25 per share, compared to analyst estimates of $14.5 billion in revenue and $0.24 EPS.

Within those figures

So an obvious question: How does Carl Icahn respond?

For months, Icahn has been effectively accusing Dell management of intentionally sabotaging the company's financials, so as to better enable Michael Dell to acquire the company for what Icahn believes to be a bargain basement price. Now that earnings came in relatively flat from last year and PC shipments actually increased (thanks, largely, to price cuts Icahn has criticized) does that mean the board now wants Michael Dell to lose?

My guess is that Icahn either will gloss over the new numbers, or use them to argue that he was right all along about how Dell isn't a dying company in need of a lowball take-private. Kind of a heads-he-wins/tails-he-wins sort of thing. And maybe his initial reply will even come via Twitter, where this week he both disclosed a large Apple (AAPL) stake and insulted rival Bill Ackman.

In the meantime, shareholders will need to weigh these new numbers when deciding whether or not to support Michael Dell's buyout proposal The new vote date in Sept. 12, with a $13.75 per share price that also will include a special 13 cent per share dividend.  Unless, of course, Icahn wins a legal challenge to revised shareholder voting rules, which is expected to be heard tomorrow in Delaware Chancery Court.

UPDATE: Seems like Icahn may be going with the "this company is too strong to be acquired for this little" line. Here is a statement that just came through from his anti-buyout partner, Southewastern Asset Management:

"Southeastern has reviewed Dell's fiscal second quarter earnings results and we are once again encouraged by the strong performance of the Enterprise Solutions, Software and Services business. Dell generated nearly $0.83 per share ($1.5 billion) of free cash flow during the quarter and approximately $2.22 per share of free cash flow over the trailing 12 months, despite its strategy of sacrificing margins for market share. Stockholders should note that this additional $0.83 per share in cash, which is far greater than the $0.13 special dividend being funded off Dell's balance sheet, results in an immediate accrual of $0.70 per share in value to the buyout group. This further supports our belief that the Michael Dell/Silver Lake freeze-out transaction drastically undervalues the business and its future prospects."

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Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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