updated 11/16/2006 6:22:48 PM ET 2006-11-16T23:22:48

Hewlett-Packard Co. said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings quadrupled, beating Wall Street expectations, on higher sales of laptop computers and printers.

For the three months ended Oct. 31, the Palo Alto-based computer and printer maker earned $1.7 billion or 60 cents per share, compared with $416 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Sales for the fiscal fourth quarter increased 7 percent to $24.6 billion, compared with $22.9 billion last year.

Excluding one-time charges, such as $208 million in restructuring-related adjustments and amortization, the company earned $1.9 billion, or 68 cents per share, up 27 percent from the same quarter last year.

Analysts were expecting HP to earn 64 cents per share on sales of $24.1 billion for the quarter, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

“We closed a strong year with solid revenue growth, margin expansion across our key businesses and excellent cash flow from operations,” said Mark Hurd, HP’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are well on our way to building a more competitive HP that creates further value for our shareholders.”

During the quarter, HP snatched the No. 1 ranking in worldwide personal computer shipments from Round Rock, Texas-based rival Dell Inc., market research firms Gartner Inc. and IDC reported in October. The last time HP had held the top spot was the final quarter in 2003.

Dell was also scheduled to report quarterly financial results on Thursday, but a day earlier postponed the release of its third-quarter earnings report until sometime later this month. The company also said that federal regulators had begun a formal investigation of the company.

Investors have largely shrugged off HP’s embarrassing boardroom spying scandal, which erupted in early September and led to an exodus from the company’s ranks and criminal charges against former Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, former ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker and three outside investigators.

HP’s stock price has gained nearly 12 percent since closing at $36.46 on Sept. 5, the day before the company disclosed the probe in a regulatory filing.

On Thursday, HP shares closed up 34 cents to $40.13 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange before HP reported its earnings after the market closed. Shares rose 16 cents to $40.29 in after-hours trading.

HP also met analysts earnings expectations for the full 2006 fiscal year while topping revenue estimates.

For the year, the company earned $6.2 billion, or $2.18 per share, compared with $2.4 billion, or 82 cents per share.

Sales for the year were $91.7 billion, compared with last year’s total of $86.7 billion.

Analysts were expecting HP to earn $2.18 per share on revenue of $91.2 billion.

The company also released its guidance for the coming quarter and fiscal year.

For the fiscal first quarter of 2007, HP said it expects to earn between 55 cents and 57 cents per share, or between 60 cents and 62 cents per share excluding one-time charges, on revenue of between $24.1 billion to $24.3 billion.

For the fiscal year 2007, earnings are expected to be between $2.28 and $2.33, or between $2.48 and $2.53 excluding one-time charges, according to the company. Yearly revenue is expected to be about $97 billion.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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