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Agilent to cut jobs after profits drop

Agilent Technologies, Sonoma County's largest high-tech employer, will lay off 450 workers around the world after profits fell 35 percent in the second quarter.

The job cuts, announced Tuesday, will affect 2 percent of Agilent's global workforce. Details have not been decided, but impacted employees will likely be notified by the end of the month in one-on-one meetings, said Guy Séné, president of Agilent's electronic measurement group.

“It is a very difficult situation, and clearly it is painful when it happens,” Séné said. “We don't want people to be wondering what's happening for too long, so we'll try to do this as fast as we can.”

Agilent employs about 1,175 people in Santa Rosa, primarily in the electronic measurement group, which employs 5,800 worldwide.

The last time Agilent's Santa Rosa unit had substantial layoffs was in 2009, when 300 local employees were let go. The current reduction will not reach the magnitude of the 2009 layoffs, Séné said.

“It's a restructuring that's across the whole company, so all business groups will be participating,” Séné said. “Clearly, EMG is the largest group, so we probably will be participating as the largest contributor.”

When completed, the restructuring program is expected to result in a $50 million reduction in annual operating expenses, the company said.

Agilent reported revenues of $1.73 billion for the quarter that ended April 30, roughly the same as a year ago. Profits fell to $166 million, or 48 cents per share, down from $255 million, or 72 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenues for the electronics measurement group slid 13 percent in the second quarter, compared with the prior year, as wireless manufacturing slowed and consumers shifted from personal computers to tablets.

In the manufacturing process, tablets require less testing than personal computers because of tablets' simpler design, so there's less need for Agilent's testing equipment.

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