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HP reassures that quarter's on track

In an earnings preannouncement, the tech giant says first-quarter sales will come in at the high end of estimates and that earnings will be in line with Wall Street targets.

Hewlett-Packard has announced that sales for its just-ended quarter will come in at the high end of previous estimates, while earnings will be in line with analysts' targets.

In an announcement on Wednesday, HP said that next week it expects to report revenue of $19.5 billion and per-share earnings of 35 cents, excluding 4 or 5 cents per share in charges, for the first quarter ended Jan. 31. In a statement, HP billed the earnings estimate as "consistent with the guidance the company provided at the beginning of the quarter."

"In light of speculation over the past several weeks about our performance in the quarter, we elected to end that speculation by updating the market as soon as possible," HP spokesman Brian Humphries told CNET News.com.

Analysts had been expecting the company to earn 35 cents, excluding charges, on revenue of $19.4 billion, according to an average of analysts' estimates compiled by Thomson First Call.

In November, HP projected revenue of $19.1 billion to $19.5 billion over the three months. The Palo Alto, Calif. company also said it was comfortable with analysts' earnings estimates.

The company will give its full earnings report on Feb. 19, as previously scheduled, HP said.