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IT Leaders Optimistic Heading Into 2004

All we want for Christmas is a recovery. And according to the IT industry's top executives, we may just get it.

Speaking at the Raymond James IT Supply Chain Conference Thursday, Dec. 11, top executives from some of the largest and most important technology companies said they see small, but definitive, improvements in IT spending and the overall economic condition as 2003 comes to a close. Several chief executives and financial managers were optimistic heading into next year.

Distributors such as Ingram Micro and Tech Data said they see tangible signs of improvement in business. Ingram Micro president Mike Grainger said the company was seeing positive demand in several technology areas and that regions such as Europe were improving. "Security is hot. Storage is good. Laptops are good," he said. "And Europe is doing really, really well."

In addition, Kent Foster, chairman and CEO of Ingram Micro, said his company reaffirmed its fourth-quarter guidance of $5.7 billion to $5.9 billion with earnings between $0.21 to $0.24 per share. Foster said Ingram Micro is continuing to expand its growing components business in North America, which he saw as a lucrative area because of the strong white-box market.

Ingram Micro's largest rival, Tech Data, also offered a positive outlook for next year. The company last month reported a 15 percent revenue increase year-over-year for its third quarter thanks to stronger IT demand.

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