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Xerox Chairman: “We’re Being Really Cautious”

Anne Mulcahy, chairman and former CEO of Xerox, said the uncertain economy has forced the company to remain cautious about spending and instead focus on making sure costs remain under control and that its balance sheet remains strong.

“I think we’d like to be optimistic but we’re choosing to be conservative,” Mulcahy told CNBC in an interview. “I think it’s appropriate for us to plan conservatively until we see a real trend that is more predictable and one we can depend upon in terms of planning for an upturn.”

“We’re being really cautious,” she added. “We are hiring, we are investing, but it’s a high hurdle rate when you’re dealing with an uncertain economy. Right now, we don’t see enough of a trend to get really more bullish in terms of being aggressive.”

Mulcahy—who started her career at Xerox as a sales representative in 1976—said the company has transformed its business as customers use less paper. She said the company is helping them transition into a digital world.

One area that Mulcahy said that the company has continued to invest in during the recession is research and development: “We’ve learned that R&D is such a core part of the foundation what creates competitive edge…we’ve maintained our spend in R&D.”

The recession, she said, has made the company learn how to work more efficently.

“I think we’ve all learned to operate differently and I don’t think we’re going to return to the old ways," Mulcahy said.

“I believe a lot of the adjustments we’ve made during this period of recession will continue to just be best practices going forward,” she added.