Valuing Virtual Integration at Dell Computer

Case Solution

Thomas R. Piper, Joan Magretta

Dell Computer Corp. manufactures, sells, and services personal computers. The company markets its computers directly to its customers and builds computers upon receiving an order from a customer. This build-to-order model allows Dell to make much smaller working capital investments than its competitors. It also enables Dell to take better advantage of lower component prices and introduce new products more quickly. Dell has grown rapidly and has been able to finance that growth internally through efficient use of working capital and profitability. This case highlights the importance of working capital management in a fast growing company.

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