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Components: Apple getting better deals than Dell?

A lot has been written about Dell’s third-quarter earnings report, but what caught the eye of analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research was its disappointing gross margin: 18.5%, down 150 basis points from 20% a year earlier.

“Controversial and confusing,” Wu called Dell’s (DELL) explanation for these results, especially in comparison to competitors like Apple (AAPL) and Hewlett Packard (HPQ).

“DELL cited a tougher component pricing environment. We find this odd as AAPL and HPQ experienced the opposite and our own supply chain checks indicate otherwise. … It is interesting to note that DELL’s costs may actually now be higher than HPQ and AAPL, something that was unthinkable not that long ago.”