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By Mike Hughlett, Chicago Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 26--Computer seller CDW Corp. Tuesday posted a 41 percent increase in fourth-quarter net profits, meeting Wall Street's expectations.
Still, CDW's performance wasn't as good as some investors had hoped for, and the Vernon Hills-based firm watched its stock tumble nearly 5 percent, or $3.03, to close at $57.67.
CDW, which sells computer hardware and software to businesses and governments, recorded fourth-quarter net earnings of $62.7 million or 73 cents per share. Sales during the quarter hit $1.5 billion, up 11.7 percent from the same time last year.
"We are pleased to report the best fourth quarter ever in the history of the company," company CEO John Edwardson told analysts.
The strong quarter capped a record year. CDW's net profits for 2004 totaled $241 million, up 38 percent from 2003. Meanwhile, annual sales jumped 23 percent to $5.7 billion.
Last year was a comeback year for tech spending by U.S. corporations, a key growth driver for CDW. But CDW has grown at a faster clip than tech spending generally.
"They are taking share from weaker competitors," said David Small, a stock analyst in New York with Goldman Sachs.
CDW's average daily …