HP beats on PC, printer sales
Fiscal first-quarter revenue and earnings ahead of estimates; revenue forecast steady. Stock up after-hours.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Investors greeted Hewlett-Packard's fiscal first-quarter results with a cheer, sending shares up about 3.5 percent in after-hours trading after the company reported it beat both revenue and earnings expectations.
HP grew revenues 6 percent, to $22.7 billion. The company posted earnings -- before charges -- of $0.48, well ahead of Wall Street's estimate of $0.44, and 29 percent higher than a year ago.
But CEO Mark Hurd said in a conference call that while the company is encouraged by its progress, there is still room for improvement. "We know we have more work to do and we know we can do better," said Hurd. "We have growth opportunities to pursue, and we need to remain disciplined in terms of our costs."
Strong shipments in the company's printing and PC businesses, its two largest units, led the way in the quarter, with laptop revenue rising 26 percent and total PC shipments up 16 percent. The operating profit margin for the PC business was 3.9 percent, up from 2.1 percent a year earlier. Those margins are the best the company has reported in years, according to Hurd.
The PC business posted total sales of $7.4 billion for the quarter, up 8 percent over the year-ago quarter, while the printing division generated sales of $6.5 billion -- also an 8 percent sales increase.
HP reported an overall operating margin of 7.5 percent, up from 6.2 percent for the same period last year.
Since Hurd took over as chief executive in April, HP shares have increased nearly 50 percent, closing Wednesday at $31.67
"Net/net, it was positive," said Terry Daniels, a technology analyst in the research department of Edward Jones. "I don't think there is any one magic bullet; (Hurd) has been successful at incrementally tweaking different parts of the business, whether through execution or improving cost structure."
Daniels added that the profitability was better than expected in the printer division, HP's cash cow, which accounts for 50 percent to 60 percent of revenues, depending on the quarter.
Sam Bhavnani, principal analyst in the mobile electronics and computing group at research firm Current Analysis, was especially pleased with HP's performance in its PC division, noting that its revenues actually surpassed those of the printing business, normally the leading sales generator for HP.
"What's happened there is remarkable," said Bhavnani. "They are turning operating profits on a regular basis; it no longer seems like they are the red-headed stepchild compared to [imaging and printing], which was typically the shining star."
Bhavnani said HP increased PC shipments by 30.5 from the prior quarter, and that HP's 16 percent year-over-year increase in shipments beat out the industry average of about 13 percent.
But investors hoping the company would raise its sales forecast may be disappointed. HP said revenue for this year will fall between $90 billion and $91 billion, a modest revision of its earlier forecast of $89.5 billion to $90 billion. The mid-point of that range falls slightly below the Wall Street consensus of $90.88 billion.
For the current quarter, HP said it expects revenue to fall between $22.4 billion and $22.6 billion. Again, the midpoint of that range falls slightly short of Wall Street's forecast of $22.6 billion.
The company, however, lifted its earnings forecasts. For the full year, the company is forecasting earnings per share of $1.90 to $1.95 -- well ahead of Wall Street's forecast of $1.84 per share. For the current quarter, the company gave guidance of $0.47 to $0.49 per share -- the current forecast is for $0.45 per share.
Restructuring: More benefits to come
As part of a plan to increase growth, a critical issue for investors and analysts, Hurd said the company will work on increasing demand in business units such as commercial printing and enterprise hardware.
He noted that the company has tried to target its actions in its printer business to "high consumption" areas -- meaning customers who spend lots of money on laser and ink cartridges, which are where HP makes most of its money in the printing business. The company posted an 11 percent increase in sales of printing supplies from the year-ago quarter.
Hurd also said the company's restructuring effort, which included a plan to cut some 15,000 jobs, is on track. During the quarter, the company cut 1,800 jobs, bringing the cumulative total to 6,500 so far.
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