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The worst seems to be over, but that doesn’t mean good times are here again,
Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM) CEO Greg Spierkel
tells Channel Insider.

The world’s largest IT distributor, Ingram Micro this week reported a sales
decline of 25 percent for its Q2 year over year, a steeper decline than the 22
percent decline in sales IT and electronics distributor Arrow
reported earlier this week for its Q2

However, Spierkel points out that Ingram Micro’s sequential decline was just 2
percent down
from Q1 sales
, following a normal seasonal pattern, and one that he
expects to continue into Q3.

“It was a very small decline quarter to quarter, which is what we told the
Street to expect from us,” Spierkel tells Channel Insider. “We are following a
seasonal pattern. Things are not getting worse.”

Ingram Micro reported Q2 sales of $6.58 billion, compared with $8.82 billion
during the same period a year ago. Net income came in at $25.3 million, or 15
cents per diluted share, including special items such as expense-reduction
programs and a goodwill impairment charge. That compares with $58.9
million, or 35 cents per diluted share, in the same period a year ago, also
including special items related to expense reduction programs.

Like many other technology executives, Spierkel believes a recovery is more
likely to begin sometime in 2010 than anytime this year.

“I wouldn’t say things are going to jump up in a hurry,” he says. “It’s such a
relief that we are seeing a pattern of sales that are not going down anymore.
There are signals here that the market is not going to collapse, and that’s an
important psychological thing for the consumer and for businesses.”

Spierkel says that recent stock market gains may be adding to confidence so
that businesses and consumers may start to spend again, even though he believes
unemployment will continue to increase over the next few months. Other
positives may come from the release of Microsoft Windows 7 and the funds that
will eventually be coming from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act—also
known as the economic stimulus package.

Spierkel noted during a conference call with analysts that Ingram Micro’s
largest vendor, Hewlett-Packard, had switched from back-end rebates to front
end starting on May 1, which was midway through Ingram Micro’s Q2.

“We worked pretty closely with HP on those changes,” Spierkel says. “We had
some visibility a few weeks in advance of them coming forward.”

The HP changes put more emphasis on front-end margins.

“Essentially, HP has decided to take some of the variability of back-end margin
dynamics out of the marketplace, putting a greater emphasis on the front-end
margins that need to go out to the market,” he says.

Spierkel says Ingram Micro increased prices throughout Europe as a result of
the HP changes, and so far those are sticking pretty well with no deterioration
in margins.
“We are getting the profitability right,” Spierkel tells Channel Insider.
“We’ve been focused a lot on expense reductions and getting the right kind of
business.”