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Ask a technology executive about how business was in 2009 and you might hear "not great," or "down."

You don’t hear very many executives using the word “exceptional”
these days when it comes to describing their company’s performance in
the past year, but that’s just the word that Tech Data CEO Bob
Dutkowsky used to describe Tech Data’s fourth quarter.

“It was exceptional,” he told Channel Insider. “The company performed
very well in a continuing tough economic environment. We had record
earnings for the quarter. And we had record earnings for the
year.” 

Dutkowsky attributes that success to diversification across product
lines, geographies and vendors, as well as a focus on more profitable
solutions, plus the company’s execution of its strategies. For example,
Tech Data diversified into smartphones in Europe through its joint venture Brightstar there. And in the United States, Tech
Data has added LCD televisions to its lineup, which contributed well to
its Q4 net sales.

Plus, Tech Data left some big deals on the table in 2009, Dutkowsky
said, including a $50 million software bid that Tech Data had
traditionally won in years past, but that went to a competitor this
time around who underbid Tech Data’s cost of acquiring the goods.

“It happened a lot in the past year,” Dutkowsky said “It’s the reason
we were able to have the profits we had. If pricing gets irrational we
walk away.”

While many in the industry believe 2009 recession put tremendous
pressure on pricing during the year, Dutkowsky said he doesn’t think
pricing was any more challenging than it has been any other year.

“There are opportunities and deals that become very competitive, and
they are big deals so they are very visible,” he said. But much of the
business is Web business. “Price is just one of the things that
customers look at. If you don’t have the right product, they won’t
buy.” And while price usually ends up as one of the top five reasons
why a customer chooses to deal with Tech Data, it’s seldom number one,
according to Dutkowsky

Tech Data’s Q4 showed an increase in net sales to $6.3 billion as
compared to $5.7 billion for the same period a year ago – a time when
the industry was experiencing steep declines. The company attributes
part of the 10 percent year-over-year increase to the impact of
currencies.

Tech Data’s Q4 net income totaled $70.1 million, or $1.35 per diluted
share, compared to net income of $57 million, or $1.14 per diluted
share for the prior-year period.

For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, Tech Data reported net sales of
$22.1 billion, an 8.2 percent increase from the $24.1 billion it had
reported the year before. A strengthening U.S. dollar negatively
affected the net sales comparison by about 2 percentage points, Tech
Data said.

Net income for the year was $180.2 million or $3.54 per diluted share
compared to $117.3 million or $2.28 per diluted share for the year
before.