Compaq CEO downplays rough quarter

Summary:Eckhard Pfeiffer says his rivals will be feeling the pain, too -- even if they don't admit it.

HOUSTON -- Compaq Computer Corp. CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer offered a guardedly optimistic appraisal of the company's prospects in the aftermath of the computer maker's surprise warning that it would badly miss first-quarter earnings estimates.

"We're talking about it as if this is all a defining moment," Pfeiffer said in an interview Wednesday. "It was a miss vis-a-vis an analyst's estimate."

A frustrated CEO
During a wide-ranging interview, Pfeiffer displayed some frustration with the amount of speculation about Compaq's (NYSE:CPQ) financial health.

"We'll have to wait and see at the end of the quarter what has been the market growth and what everybody has done."

He also disputed suggestions that the slowdown is a problem confined to Compaq, suggesting that other rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HWP) and Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq:DELL) have also been affected.

CEOs of those companies have said they are not seeing the same degree of slowness that hit Compaq.

Strategizing with Gates
Pfeiffer, fresh from a three-hour strategy session with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, characterized his company's relationship with the software giant as "outstanding."

"It's been very good, very strong for extended periods," he said.

Pfeiffer indicated that the delay of Windows 2000 would not create problems for Compaq, a close partner. "We can include it in our planning," he said.

Pfeiffer announced on Tuesday the company's new Internet initiative. But he said Wednesday that Compaq would not shift its prime focus away from PCs.

HOUSTON -- Compaq Computer Corp. CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer offered a guardedly optimistic appraisal of the company's prospects in the aftermath of the computer maker's surprise warning that it would badly miss first-quarter earnings estimates.

"We're talking about it as if this is all a defining moment," Pfeiffer said in an interview Wednesday. "It was a miss vis-a-vis an analyst's estimate."

A frustrated CEO
During a wide-ranging interview, Pfeiffer displayed some frustration with the amount of speculation about Compaq's (NYSE:CPQ) financial health.

"We'll have to wait and see at the end of the quarter what has been the market growth and what everybody has done."

He also disputed suggestions that the slowdown is a problem confined to Compaq, suggesting that other rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HWP) and Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq:DELL) have also been affected.

CEOs of those companies have said they are not seeing the same degree of slowness that hit Compaq.

Strategizing with Gates
Pfeiffer, fresh from a three-hour strategy session with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, characterized his company's relationship with the software giant as "outstanding."

"It's been very good, very strong for extended periods," he said.

Pfeiffer indicated that the delay of Windows 2000 would not create problems for Compaq, a close partner. "We can include it in our planning," he said.

Pfeiffer announced on Tuesday the company's new Internet initiative. But he said Wednesday that Compaq would not shift its prime focus away from PCs.

Topics: Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Operating Systems, PCs, Software, Windows

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