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The Times 100: CALIFORNIA'S TOP COMPANIES | COMPANY
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Hewlett-Packard Co.

No. 2, Sales; No. 1, Employees; No. 3, Market Value; No. 3, Absolute Profits

May 06, 1997|KAREN KAPLAN

It's no surprise that Hewlett-Packard Co. finished another year at or near the top of a bevy of key categories in The Times 100, including sales, profit and market value. The Palo Alto-based dean of high-tech companies has consistently turned in strong performances in a variety of product lines, including printers, calculators and personal computers.

Last year HP laid the groundwork to boost its Internet-related business. Though it has little in common with a typical Generation X-style Silicon Valley start-up, HP is just as determined to make its mark in this increasingly important Internet business.

It has made a licensing deal with Netscape Communications, produced software to process applications for Sun Microsystem's Java platform, developed "smart card" technology to simplify online transactions and launched an Internet service called HP@home. The company has also announced plans for a printer for WebTV customers and for a NetPC that will sell for less than $1,000.

Hewlett-Packard's boldest move recently, however, was its agreement last month to buy VeriFone Inc., a company that makes credit-card-swiping devices used by retailers, for $1.2 billion.

Bundling its hardware with VeriFone's technology could help HP persuade customers to buy its equipment instead of rivals'. That could help HP get in on the ground floor of online commerce, which is projected to grow to $73 billion by 2000, according to Forrester Research.

If the Internet indeed pans out as a viable place to do business, analysts say, HP, which earned $2.7 billion last year on sales of $39.4 billion, will be well-positioned to benefit.

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