Fiorina Defends Solid HP Earnings


Walter Hewlett says numbers confirm merger isn't needed


Hewlett-Packard's Chairman and CEO was forced into the unusual predicament of defending HP for having a stronger first quarter than expected.

During an analysts call following release of the company's earnings for the quarter ended Jan. 31, Fiorina was asked if the company "goosed the numbers" in light of the contentious proxy battle to win shareholder approval for its merger with Compaq.

"Metaphorically, literally, and in every other conceivable way, I look you in the eye and say these numbers are exactly what they appear to be, solid execution across the board in an environment that continues to be challenging" she said.

HP reported net income of 25 cents per share on revenue of $11.4 billion for its fiscal first quarter.

What's more, shortly after the analysts call began, dissident shareholder and HP board member Walter Hewlett e-mailed and faxed a statement to the media that said in part, "I am pleased to see Hewlett-Packard continue (sic) to perform well. These results further confirm that Hewlett-Packard does not need to acquire Compaq."

When informed of Hewlett's press release, Fiorina shot back, "I agree with Walter Hewlett on one point: This is not a company in crisis. This is a company that is strong enough to take a decisive step and smart enough to know when to take it."

Fiorina also said HP has set a tentative date of April 1 for the new combined HP-Compaq company to begin operating, pending regulatory and shareholder approval. The shareholder vote is scheduled for March 19.