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Hewlett-Packard misses 4Q estimates

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP) fell short of analyst estimates for the fourth quarter by a whopping 10 cents Monday and saw its shares slip before the bell.

The computer and printer maker's stock plunged 11 percent in Instinet pre-market trading, or 4.13 to 35, down from a Friday close of 39.13.

The company came in with fourth-quarter earnings per share of 41 cents, excluding investment and divestiture gains and losses, the effects of stock appreciation rights and balance sheet translation, and restructuring charges. First Call estimates called for 51 cents.

"I accept full responsibility for the shortfall," said CEO Carly Fiorina in a press release.

Revenue was up 17 percent to 13.3 billion over $11.4 billion in last year's fourth quarter.

According to the company, the smaller-than-expected earning were caused by margin pressures, adverse currency effects, higher-than-expected expenses, and business mix.

The shortfall of Hewlett-Packard sets the stage for another rough ride for computer-related stocks, which were pounded last week thanks to lowered guidance from Dell Computers (Nasdaq: DELL). IBM (NYSE: IBM), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) were all down in pre-session action.

The company also issued unimpressive growth projections for the 2001 fiscal year ending Oct. 31. HP expects to achieve revenue growth in the range of 15 to 17 percent, compared to 15 percent in FY 2000.

Gross margin percentage in fiscal 2001 is expected to be in the range of 27.5 to 28.5 percent, compared to 28.5 percent in 2000, with improvements beginning in the 2nd quarter. Total operating expenses in 2001 are expected to be about 10 to 12 percent above 2000.

For the year, net revenue increased 15 percent to $48.8 billion. Net earnings from continuing operations were $3.6 billion, an increase of 15 percent compared with $3.1 billion in fiscal 1999. Net earnings per share were $1.73 on a diluted basis, up 16 percent from $1.49 last year.

Hewlett-Packard also said it had terminated talks to purchase the consulting business of PricewaterhouseCoopers.