Orders at HPup by $2bn

MAGNUS GRIMOND

Shares in Hewlett-Packard jumped on Wall Street yesterday, after the computer maker reported much better than expected orders and earnings for the third quarter.

The company said strong worldwide growth had pushed product orders for the three months to July to $8bn (pounds 5bn) from $6bn a year ago. HP also announced net earnings of $1.09 per share for the quarter, against just 66 cents in the same period of 1994 and well ahead of analysts' estimates of around $1.01.

The news propelled the shares $37/8 ahead to $813/4 by midday on Wall Street yesterday, pulling other technology issues up in their wake.

"It was an excellent quarter in most respects", according to Lewis Platt, Hewlett-Packard's chairman and chief executive. "Order and revenue growth was outstanding, helped in part by the timing of some product introductions, which mitigated the impact of normal seasonal factors."

"This quarter's outstanding order growth puts us in a strong position as we start the fourth quarter," Mr Platt said.

Orders rose 39 per cent to $6.3bn in the computer business. The company said excellent growth in personal computers, Unix-based multi-user computers and printers was behind the increase.

Within the personal computer operation, the company said there was broad strength in desktop machines, servers and network products. Improved availability and outstanding acceptance of recently introduced products were key drivers of PC order growth, it added.

Total group orders rose 34 per cent to $3.7bn within the US, while orders from outside the country advanced 35 per cent to $4.3bn, or 54 per cent of the company's total.

The company said operating expenses rose 16 per cent over the comparable period's figure, representing 26 per cent of revenue compared with 28.7 per cent in the 1994 quarter.

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