Hewlett Packard reports flat results


Hewlett Packard (HP) has reported flat results for its third financial quarter to end July, with net earnings (after tax profits) of $621 million, just fractionally up on the $617 million reported for the same quarter last year. Chairman Mr Lew Platt said that looking forward there were reasons for "continued caution", with no sign of a revival in Asian economies and uncertainty about the outlook for the US and Latin America.

Mr Platt said that the flat third quarter figures reflected a difficult business environment and the economic weakness in Asia. Revenues (turnover) rose by 5 per cent to $11 billion, but price pressures meant that net earnings rose just 1 per cent while earnings per share were flat at 58 cents.

The US technology company employs 1,500 people in manufacturing inkjet cartridges at its Leixlip plant in Co Dublin. Last month the company performed the official opening of phase two of the plant and stated that it was on target to recruit a further 1,500 people by the year 2001.

In July, the company warned that its third quarter earnings would probably be below revised forecasts, blaming the Asia crisis and uncertainty elsewhere. In the European market HP reported a 7 per cent increase in quarterly sales to $3.6 billion.

Overall, HP said that its performance in the PC market was affected by continued pressure on prices and a shift to lower end computers. Demand in the printers market, of which Dublin is a part, increased moderately. Meanwhile its semiconductor test business was hit by the problems in that sector and the difficulties in Asia.

HP reported particularly weak results for the previous quarter. This meant that for the nine months to end July, net earnings fell 3 per cent from the same period last year to $2.2 billion, even though revenues rose 12 per cent to $34.8 billion.