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Dell, the world's biggest and most profitable PC maker, is keen to show Wall Street just how ruthless it can be.

The company is to fire 3,000-4,000 full-time employees, in its latest round of cost-cutting. But it does not say how many contractors and temps it is jettisoning.

The lay-offs will take place over the next two quarters and Dell's operations in central Texas will bear the brunt. Some of the lay-offs will take place through 'normal attrition', according to Dell (the sooner US firms stop using this peculiar euphemism the better).

Yeah, right; aside from retirements, who will leave the company when there's a prospect of avoiding redundancy, and when there may not be so many well-paid jobs going in the area, and where, if push comes to shove, there's a prospect of a pay-off.

Dell's news comes in a trading statement released by Dell yesterday in which the company announced that it would meet sales and profit targets of $8bn and 17 cents per share for Q2.

Dell has already fired 1,700 employees this year. At the time, Michael Dell said the cuts showed the company had "screwed up". So how much has it screwed up this time? ®

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