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HP

The IT hardware and services giant hit a rough patch in recent years under the leadership of former CEO Carly Fiorina, who oversaw the firm’s acquisition of computer maker Compaq.

Global HQ: Palo Alto, California, US Website: www.hp.com

Global leader: Mark Hurd, chairman, CEO and president

Local leader: Keith Watson, managing director, NZ

Core activity: IT hardware and services

Revenue: US$104.3 billion (FY07 ended October)

Key customers: Subhiksha, Dreamworks, US Air Force

Employees: 172,000

With the despondent economic news there’s no doubt these are tough times. But apparently nobody has told HP. The IT hardware and services giant hit a rough patch in recent years under the leadership of former CEO Carly Fiorina, who oversaw the firm’s acquisition of computer maker Compaq.

However, under current leader Mark Hurd, HP seems to have struck the right balance between efficiency and expansion. It is trimming costs by scaling back its number of worldwide sites, but also pouring resources into promising business divisions such as mobility and blade servers.

So while financial instability has put much of the industry on the defensive, for HP, it’s business as usual, and perhaps even better.

Never acquisition-shy, it recently completed its US$13.9 billion buyout of outsourcing veteran EDS and has just announced it is buying LeftHand Networks, a provider of storage virtualisation and iSCSI storage area network solutions, for US$360 million. LeftHand’s products already work with HP’s Proliant servers, BladeSystem platforms, ProCurve networks and Insight Control management software.

The EDS acquisition, meanwhile, will boost HP’s ability to provide specific offerings to verticals such as health care and manufacturing, which poses a direct challenge to IT services heavyweights such as IBM and Infosys. This was hot on the heels from buying wireless networking specialist Colubris, a move indicating HP is no longer content to see the sector being dominated by Cisco.

Amid this flurry of activity HP hasn’t forgotten the nuts and bolts of its business. Shipments of its notebooks surged over the last quarter, despite the grim economic climate. Orders from Europe and Asia showed particular strength and helped the firm post a forecast-beating 14 per cent jump in profit. In the words of one of our judges, whatever the weather, HP “has maintained the strategies that brought it back to the top”. With reporting from Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service

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