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Agilent Cuts Out 11% More of Workforce

Equipment test manufacturer Agilent Friday said it will have to fire even more of its employees to remain profitable for the rest of the year.

During its first quarter earnings report, the Palo Alto Calif.-based company, which spun off from Hewlett-Packard in 1999, said it will cut an additional 4,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its work force.

Back in November, the company eliminated 2,500 jobs in November and 8,000 jobs in late 2001. Agilent had 35,000 employees before the cuts.

"Our first quarter results were disappointing," said Agilent chairman, president and CEO Ned Barnholt. "Orders were weaker than expected due to a general climate of uncertainty."

Barnholt said that Agilent's orders were down 22 percent compared to a year ago in the Americas, about flat in Europe and up 7 percent in Asia.

"Our first quarter results reflect a collective hesitation by many of our customers, who are deferring capital expenditures. Geopolitical uncertainty, on top of the general economic weakness we've experienced in the last year and a half, has resulted in a continuing pattern of weak orders."

While all of Agilent's business segments were relatively soft in the first quarter, the company said it saw particular weakness in its semiconductor equipment, test and measurement, and chemical analysis businesses compared to prior expectations.

"Our near-term outlook calls for a modest improvement in second quarter orders and revenues based on a rebound in semiconductor equipment and seasonally higher semiconductor orders," Barnholt said. "However, visibility has never been worse, and we have no reason to believe that business will improve materially in the quarters immediately ahead."