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Declaring a year for rebuilding, HP posts lower profit

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard might have gained running room, but it remains unclear whether it can leap successfully to technology’s new post-PC world.

The world’s largest maker of personal computers, printers and computer servers has struggled for growth in a world increasingly full of smartphones, tablets and cloud computing services. Anchored in the traditional hardware, HP is challenged by new devices, which it does not make, and cutthroat competition in its old low-margin businesses, which is pressing margins.

On Thursday, HP reported lower first-quarter revenue, profit and profit margins. Sales were down in all five of HP’s major businesses, which also include software and services.

Chief Executive Meg Whitman declared in an interview after release of the results that “the patient showed improvement.” She said HP was building a number of consumer and business products, including new kinds of laptops and low-energy servers for cloud computing, that will renew the company.

Positive sustained growth, however, is still a year away, Whitman said.

“All of the pipe we laid in 2012, and will lay in 2013, will show up in 2014,” she said.

—Quentin Hardy, The New York Times

Bombings in Syrian capital kill at least 42, opposition says

TRIPOLI, Lebanon — At least three car bombs roiled Damascus on Thursday, including a powerful blast near the downtown headquarters of President Bashar Assad’s ruling party and the Russian Embassy that witnesses said shook the neighborhood like an earthquake. Anti-government activists described the bombings as some of the worst to hit the city in the nearly two-year-old conflict and said at least 72 people had been killed, mostly civilians.

Witnesses, including people who had been living near the ruling party headquarters in the Mazraa district, said the bombings were eroding what little confidence they had left that Assad’s forces could preserve at least some semblance of normalcy in Damascus, the Syrian capital, where armed insurgents have attacked with increasing brazenness.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The main umbrella opposition group seeking to depose Assad condemned the bombings as it convened a meeting in Cairo. It was unclear whether the blasts had been timed to the Cairo meeting.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency described the blasts as the work of armed terrorist groups, its standard terminology for the insurgency. SANA said the victims included children and students and hundreds of people had been wounded.

—Anne Barnard and Rick Gladstone, The New York Times