Updated from Nov. 11 Agilent's (A) - Get Report fiscal fourth quarter came up light, and the company slashed first-quarter guidance, triggering a sharp decline in the company's stock price early Friday.

Blaming a weak chip business, the Palo Alto, Calif., tech shop late Thursday announced adjusted earnings of 30 cents a share on $1.82 billion in sales for the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31. While that is a 9% top-line increase over the year-ago quarter, analysts were hoping for an adjusted profit of 31 cents a share on sales of $1.87 billion.

Agilent expects chip demand to remain slack in the fiscal 2005 first quarter and says adjusted profits will drop as low as 14 cents a share on about $1.65 billion in sales. Wall Street was expecting an adjusted profit of 27 cents on $1.9 billion in sales, according to Thomson Financial.

Agilent makes semiconductors as well as test and measurement systems for the chip manufacturing industry.

For the full fiscal 2004, Agilent posted GAAP earnings of 71 cents a share on $7.18 billion in sales, a 19% increase over fiscal 2003.

"Agilent continued to face a difficult environment in several of its key markets," CEO Ned Barnholt said in an earnings release Thursday. "For 2004 overall, we are pleased with Agilent's performance despite the mixed finish," Barnholt said. "During the year, we completed the company's operational transformation that we began three years ago."

Agilent shares dropped $2.18, or 8.5%, in premarket action to $23.50.