Fresh off Tuesday's dramatic realignment announcement, Hewlett-Packard (HWP) said it can "play anywhere" in the e-services business that the company sees as the Internet's next hot sector.

Meeting with analysts this morning at the


in New York, the Palo Alto, Calif., PC and peripherals giant repeatedly stressed its presence in the Internet backbone market. "The first chapter of the Internet was all about e-commerce and .coms," said CEO Lew Platt, who will

step down after the company splits into two. "The second chapter will be about connecting the dots, and you can't do that today. We feel we can play anywhere in this e-services chain."

Platt continued that H-P will highlight its direct relationship with customers through a program it calls "Electronic" He reiterated his desire to pass the reins to a new CEO, most likely an outside executive, before he hits the mandatory retirement age of 60 in April 2001.

Platt also highlighted the company's ambitious "Five nines vision," a services program that seeks to provide 99.999% uptime to corporations by the end of 2000, meaning five minutes of downtime per year. Hewlett has allied itself for the program with


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Bob Wayman, H-P's CFO, who will lead the realignment, expects gross margins to remain at 31%, operating margins to slip to 10% and operating expenses to slope down to 22%.