Hewlett-Packard Sees Earnings Surpassing Estimates

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Computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard on Monday said it expects fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenues to be higher than anticipated due to greater consumer demand and cost-cutting.

Hewlett-Packard, which has agreed to acquire competitor Compaq Computer, says it expects revenues to be up moderately from the fourth quarter, based on an uptick in consumer demand for PCs, as well as imaging and printing equipment.

Other PC companies, including No. 1 PC maker Dell Computer, have said consumer demand was stronger than forecast in the fourth-quarter.

Hewlett-Packard previously said it expected revenues in its fiscal first quarter, ended Jan. 31, to fall slightly from the $10.88 billion it booked in the fourth quarter. Analysts expected revenues of $10.65 billion, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.

The company on Monday said it expected earnings to substantially exceed the consensus Wall Street forecast of 16 cents per share. In the year-ago first quarter, the company earned 41 cents per share.

"Economic conditions around the world continue to be challenging, but consumer technology spending is clearly showing some strength," says CEO Carly Fiorina. "These results demonstrate that we are focused on our customers and executing well. We remain convinced that we are up to the task of successfully integrating Compaq and creating a powerful new HP."

Hewlett-Packard and Compaq have been caught up in controversy over their proposed merger, which was announced on Sept. 4, as members of the Hewlett and Packard families have said they plan to vote their combined 18 percent stake against the deal.

Walter Hewlett, son of founder Bill Hewlett, has been particularly vocal.

Last week, the European Commission gave Hewlett-Packard and Compaq the go-ahead for their merger. The company is still waiting for U.S. regulatory approval and a shareholder vote, which it says it hopes to hold in March.

Hewlett-Packard also says it will will report results on Feb. 13 and host its next semiannual meeting for security analysts on Feb. 27 in New York.

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