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Agilent to cut 4,000 jobs

Aiming to lower the point at which it can break even, the equipment maker announces plans to cut an additional 4,000 jobs on top of previous layoffs.

    Aiming to lower the point at which it can break even, equipment maker Agilent Technologies on Friday announced plans to cut an additional 4,000 jobs on top of previous layoffs.

    The Palo Alto, Calif.-based test and measurement equipment maker, spun off from HP in 1999, said the move will allow the company to eventually break even with sales of $1.45 billion. The new round of reductions come on top of thousands of other jobs cut at Agilent in the past 24 months.

    The company hopes to return to profitability in the second half of this year.

    "These actions will be extraordinarily painful, but we have no alternative," Chief Executive Ned Barnholt said in a statement. "Agilent must return to profitability as soon as possible."

    The job cuts came as Agilent reported first-quarter results that Barnholt called "disappointing."

    For the first quarter, ended Jan. 31, the company posted a loss from continuing operations of $112 million, or 24 cents per share on revenue of $1.41 billion. The loss included $12 million of noncash amortization charges and $42 million in restructuring expenses. Adding in a $257 million write-off for goodwill related to an accounting change, the company lost $369 million, or 78 cents per share.

    Agilent also said that orders during the quarter were at $1.36 billion, below the company's sales for the quarter.

    "Orders were weaker than expected due to a general climate of uncertainty," Barnholt said. "Our first-quarter results reflect a collective hesitation by many of our customers who are deferring capital expenditures."