HP slips as profits dip

Unix sales team gets a kick up the Taurus

Top Hewlett Packard salesmen will not be forced into driving a standard issue Ford Taurus, the company's chief executive Carly Fiorina said on Friday, in a trading update that led to a fall in the company's share price of nearly five per cent. This freedom to choose policy is part of a move to shake up an under-performing Unix sales force in North America, that -- in conjunction with memory parts shortages in the aftermath of the Taiwanese earthquake -- means that the company will come in at the low end of forecast sales growth. The printer-to-Unix giant had forecast earnings growth of 10 to 13 per cent for the fourth quarter. But, in a teleconference with analysts, Fiorina warned: "With the Taiwan disruption, which effects, most especially, our PC business, we don't think we'll achieve the high end of that range and are more likely to come in closer to the low end." Last month's Taiwanese earthquake, Fiorina said, would lead to "some disruption and delay in some elements of our PC supply chain. DRAM availability also may become an issue, but it's too early to tell." The delivery of chipsets, particularly for notebooks, is the key problem. HP stock prices fell $4.81 on Friday's trading to $87.19. As for the Ford Taurus, sales executives will be given 'an entirely new' incentive scheme to correct the North American Unix sales operation, while "poor performers have been removed". Part of this includes choosing their own company car rather than the corporate standard Taurus. ® See related stories: Crap HP sales reps get new cars Quake ripples and Rambus fiasco hit Dell, HP

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