Hewlett Packard spin-off Agilent is slashing 4000 jobs, blaming the "deep downturn". The cuts represent nine per cent of the total workforce.
The company, which manufactures test and measurement equipment, said the layoffs follow a 50 per cent drop in orders in its third quarter. Agilent had already cut salaries by 10 per cent and put a freeze on contractors.
Losses for the third quarter, ended 31 July, were $219m, compared with net income of $155m in the same period last year. Revenues for the quarter were $1.8bn, down 23 per cent from last year.
Agilent said that business for its customers was still booming until the end of last year, prompting the firm to increase manufacturing capacity. But when the market ground to a halt earlier this year, Agilent was stuck with stock it couldn't sell.
Chief executive Ned Barnholt warned that the downturn was "deeper and is probably going to last longer than we would like", adding that it was the worst he had seen for 34 years. He said that he couldn't see how anybody could have anticipated how quickly and dramatically the market would turn.
Barnholt expects things to start picking up slowly next year, with demand coming from wireless companies needing testing equipment for their products.
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