Earnings season is starting to look a bit long in the tooth, but we've still got some companies with bite to 'em left in the queue. Tomorrow, one of the two biggest names in personal computing -- Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) -- will update us on its performance in fiscal Q1 2008.

After the news comes out, we'll have time aplenty to dissect it. But in these few hours before we begin obsessing over Dell's short-term progress, let's take a moment to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 29,000 investors for their views on more than 4,000 companies, Dell among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 3,300 investors have submitted ratings on Dell, making this the eighth-most-rated stock in all of CAPS Land. Unfortunately, they don't like it much.

Just 67% of investors polled expect Dell to outperform the market. All-Star CAPS players are only a bit more optimistic, giving the company a 69% approval rating. Under our proprietary rating system, that's good for just two stars out of a possible five.

And yet, within the disdained PC industry, even a two-star rating isn't considered all that bad:

Personal Computers Group

CAPS Rating

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)






Gateway (NYSE:GTW)




Wall Street vs. Main Street
Meanwhile, over on Wall Street, where people know more than the rest of us (or so we're told), Dell is a fan fave. Of the 10 Dell-rating analysts we track on CAPS, eight think the stock is poised to prosper.

Are they right? Well, if they are, it's about dang time -- Dell has lagged the S&P 500 by a good 16 percentage points over the last 52 weeks.

Bull pitch
For today's bull pitch, let's go to the No. 1 CAPS player of all time, TMFEldrehad, who also happens to have the top-rated bull pitch for Dell. Says he (writing several months ago, when Dell was scoring just one star on CAPS):

What's the reason for the one star rating? Horrid balance sheet? Well, no. Dell's balance sheet looks pretty darn good. Cratering earnings? Uh, not really -- Dell's earnings grew quite nicely over the past couple/few fiscal years. Declining revenues? Nope. Trouble with cash flow? Well, no again -- Dell still generates a rather healthy amount of the all-mighty greenback.

Bear pitch
Sniping at the master, the top-rated bear snarls:

Rollins OUT! With K-Roll counting his $$ and Mike D back at the helm, Dell will enjoy a temporary shot in the arm financially and a morale boost for the faithful. The dizzying array of market challenges for Mike D appear intractable: ongoing formal SEC investigation; Q2 and Q3 reports not yet filed; Q4 miss; potential NASDAQ de-listing on tap; 40% loss of share price; loss of key senior execs; Dell direct model seeing diminishing returns in the marketplace, etc, etc.

(For the record, since that pitch was written, you can add a still-unfiled 10-K to the list of SEC filings with which Dell is tardy.)

The rest of the story
What else are Fools saying about Dell? To find out, and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, click here.

And to find out why we still like the stock over at Motley Fool Inside Value -- two-star CAPS rating or no -- click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,026 out of more than 29,000 raters. Dell is also a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation.