Dell Technologies has forecast current-quarter sales above market expectations as a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and learning powered demand for its desktops and notebooks.

This helped Dell post a surprise rise in third-quarter revenue. 

The company said it expects fourth-quarter revenue to rise 3% to 4% sequentially, implying a range between $24.18 billion and $24.42 billion. This compared with analysts' average expectation of $23.09 billion. 

The personal comptuer maker's shares were last up marginally in volatile after-market trading, as adjusted earnings matched Wall Street expectations of $2.03 per share. 

Consumers and businesses are spending on notebooks at a rate Dell has not seen in over a decade, according to an earnings presentation.

This helped its client solutions group rake in a record $12.29 billion in revenue, up about 8% from a year earlier. 

Global shipments in the traditional PC market, which includes desktops, notebooks, and workstations, jumped 14.6% year-over-year to 81.3 million units in the third quarter of 2020, according to data from IDC. 

While the Covid-19 crisis lifted demand for Dell's remote workstation products, the company's data centre business remained under pressure, with revenue from the unit falling about 4% to $8.02 billion in the quarter. 

Sales at VMware rose about 8% to $2.89 billion. Dell plans to spin off its 81% stake in the software unit to help reduce debt. 

Dell said its total revenue rose nearly 3% to $23.48 billion in the three months ended October 30, while analysts had estimated a drop of 4.4% to $21.85 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. 

Net income attributable to the company rose to $832m, from $499m a year earlier.