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In First Report as Public Entity, Agilent Exceeds Expectations

Company was spun off late last year by Hewlett-Packard.

Updated from 5:38 p.m. EST

In its first-ever quarter as an independent company,

Agilent Technologies

(A) - Get Agilent Technologies, Inc. Report

reported a 77% increase in its earnings, far exceeding Wall Street's expectations.

The company, which makes measurement and test equipment for a variety of industries, also said its revenues climbed 26% in the quarter. And it increased its forecast for annual revenues, which it said could grow about 20% this year.

Agilent's shares soared on the news, which came out after the regular stock market close. The stock climbed an additional 11 3/8, or 14%, to 94 in after-hours trading, according to Instinet. Earlier, Agilent gained 1 5/8, or 2%, to end at 82 5/8 at 4 p.m. EST.

The company, which was

spun off by



in an initial public offering late last year, posted net income of $131 million, or 30 cents a diluted share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with income of $74 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier.

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On a pro forma basis, Agilent earned 28 cents a share in the latest quarter. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

projected earnings of 22 cents per share.

The company said its revenue rose 25.7%, to $2.25 billion in the latest quarter, from $1.79 billion a year earlier.

"The strong growth this quarter was driven by excellent demand for our products and services that address the communications market," said Ned Barnholt, president and chief executive officer.

On Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard, which still owns about 85% of Agilent, reported a 10% decline in its fiscal first-quarter earnings, but it still

beat analysts' expectations by 2 cents. The company also reported revenue growth of 14%. Hewlett-Packard plans to sell its remaining stake in Agilent later this year.

Agilent also increased its net-revenue estimates for the year, which had been $9.4 billion. "Given the strength of our start to the year, we now believe that revenue could grow about 20% year over year and be closer to $10 billion," Robert R. Walker, chief financial officer, said in a statement. "For 2001, we believe we can achieve about $11.5 billion in net revenue."

Robert Maire, analyst at

Bear Stearns

, called the numbers "very, very good." Maire pointed to two areas in particular that demonstrated greater than expected strength: semiconductor tests and telecommunications test and measurement.

Orders in tests and measurement increased to $1.5 billion, up 54% over the year-earlier period. "Over all, the order rate is quite strong," Maire said.

Maire downgraded Agilent on Wednesday to attractive from buy because of a recent run-up in its stock. The shares rose more than 30% from mid-January through Wednesday.

Bear Stearns was one of the underwriters in Agilent's IPO.