Chief executives at some of the leading IT players were cautiously optimistic about an improving technology market, after a number of them met lowered expectations in the latest round of quarterly results.
Leading the way was IBM, which reported first-quarter profits up 15 per cent to $1.75bn, compared with $1.52bn a year earlier.
However, chairman Lou Gerstner admitted that the company was not immune to cutbacks in customer spending. "We are no better than others in predicting how the current economic uncertainty will unfold," he said in a statement. The company saw sales rise nine per cent to $21bn in the quarter.
Microsoft's results were also up on last year, despite a slowing PC market, with the company reporting profit of $2.5bn (£1.7bn) for its third quarter ended 31 March, compared with $2.4bn for the same period last year. The software giant reported turnover of $6.46bn, compared with $5.66bn a year ago. The company claimed that Windows 2000 boosted sales.
Sun Microsystems also beat financial expectations, albeit on previously lowered targets. It reported third-quarter profit down 43 per cent to $263m, from $464m for the same period a year ago.
"Betting against the internet and the network would be like having betted against the Industrial Revolution or the telephone in their day," said Ed Zander, Sun's president. "We're in the middle of [huge] industry change, and I'm as confident as ever that we're in the right business."
Sun has so far avoided the layoffs that have plagued other industry giants such as Hewlett Packard (HP), which last week announced it is to axe about 3000 management jobs. The decision followed a warning that HP expects sales to fall for the three months to the end of April, and remain flat until August.
This is the second such warning by HP which blamed a "rapid deterioration in consumer IT spending around the world" for its lowered turnover growth expectations of between two and four per cent, both sequentially and year on year, for its second quarter ending 30 April.
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