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Corporate Report 2004
 
introduction

Business outlook

Agilent competes in large markets that are undergoing significant change and are becoming mature. While overall growth rates in these markets are likely to be modest, there are numerous opportunities for more robust growth within these markets. Our products, customer relationships and deep technology expertise position us well to pursue these opportunities, and we will continue to do so in 2005.

As we begin 2005, a reason for caution is the slowdown in the semiconductor industry that affected our results in the second half of 2004. We believe the industry will work through its capacity and inventory issues during the first half of 2005, when we expect demand in our wireless test business to be soft. But we do not believe that we are entering a deep downturn like the one that started in 2001.

Our priorities in 2005 start with our focus on maintaining the financial and operational discipline that was crucial to our results in 2004. We will build on the dramatic progress we have made in our cost structure and IT, manufacturing and other functions. This year we will also emphasize the need to improve all aspects of our customers’ experience with Agilent. We survey our customers in depth on a regular basis, and we are taking action to increase their satisfaction and loyalty. In addition, we are increasing our investments in employee development in 2005, in order to expand the skills, leadership capability and commitment of Agilent ’s people.

The start of 2005 is the beginning of Agilent’s sixth year as an independent company. It has been an incredible first five years.
We launched the company, grew rapidly, survived the downturn and transformed virtually every element of how we do business. Our people and culture have been tested. We have learned a lot, and we have emerged as a much stronger company. Now we are embarking on a transformation in growth and innovation that is equal in scope to the operational transformation we have made. Our overarching goal in 2005 is to achieve consistently profitable growth. The key to doing that is to unleash the innovative capacity of Agilent’s people. Our ability to innovate, combined with our outstanding products, long-term customer relationships and greater operational efficiency, position us well to achieve our goals in 2005 and to continue making Agilent the company we want it to be.

On January 19, 2005, I announced my intention to retire as Agilent’s chairman, president and CEO effective March 1, 2005. The board of directors chose Bill Sullivan, who has been chief operating officer and head of EPSG, to be Agilent’s next president and CEO. I will become chairman emeritus and will work with Bill to ensure a smooth transition. Jim Cullen, who has been a board member since 2000, will become the non-executive chairman. Bill is superbly qualified for his new role. His great track record of results over many years, leadership skills and values make him the clear choice to become president and CEO. With Agilent now in excellent financial condition and strong operationally, Bill will lead the company into its next phase, where Agilent will focus more on growth.

After 38 years with Hewlett-Packard and Agilent, including the last six as president and CEO, it’s time for me to start the next phase of my life. I want to thank our shareholders, employees, customers and partners for their support of our company over the past six years and for helping to make my time as CEO fulfilling in so many ways.


Ned Barnholt
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer


"Our people and culture have been tested. We have learned a lot, and we have emerged as a much stronger company."

Ned Barnholt
Chairman, President
and Chief Executive Officer



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