Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) just announced mixed fiscal fourth-quarter 2014 results, and the market isn't particularly happy.
But not terribly so. Shares of the tech giant fell a modest 1% after it said quarterly net revenue decreased 2% year over year (or 3% on a constant currency basis) to $28.4 billion. Similarly, GAAP diluted net earnings per share fell around 4% to $0.70, which -- for what it's worth -- is near the high end of HP's own per-share guidance provided last quarter of $0.67 to $0.71. On a non-GAAP basis, net earnings climbed 5% year over year to $1.06 per diluted share, which was also near the high end of HP's guidance of $1.03 to $1.07, and helped in part by HP's decision to spend $750 million to repurchase roughly 21.7 million shares of common stock in fiscal Q4.
Analysts, on average, were looking for roughly the same adjusted earnings of $1.06 per share, but on slightly higher sales of $28.76 billion.
Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard generated fourth-quarter cash flow from operations of $2.7 billion, down 4% over the same year-ago period. At the same time, HP's operating net cash rose a whopping $1 billion sequentially to $5.9 billion, and it exited the quarter with roughly $15.5 billion in gross cash.
More of the same (in a good way)
Once again, Personal Systems revenue led the way, climbing 4% from the same period last year. That includes a 7% increase in commercial revenue, and a 2% decline in consumer revenue. Total units for the segment climbed 5%, bolstered by an 8% increase in notebook units, and hampered by a 2% decline in desktops.
In fact, the strength of Personal Systems' notebook sales singlehandedly muted revenue declines from every other segment, including drops of 5% in Printing revenue, 4% from its Enterprise Group (which focuses on industry standard servers, storage, and networking), 7% in Enterprise Services, 1% in Software, and 1% in Financial Services.
Even so, HP CEO Meg Whitman insisted:
I'm excited to say that HP's turnaround continues on track. In [fiscal year 2014] we stabilized our revenue trajectory, strengthened our operations, showed strong financial discipline, and once again made innovation the cornerstone of our company. [...] There's still a lot left to do, but our efforts to date, combined with the separation we announced in October, sets the stage for accelerated progress in [fiscal year 2015] and beyond.
On the separation, guidance
HP announced early last month its monumental, (hopefully) value-generating decision to split into two new publicly traded companies, each of which will be large enough to be Fortune 50 businesses. The first, HP, will consist of Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems and Printing segments. And the second, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, will contain the Enterprise, Software, and Services divisions. The separation will be a tax-free transaction for current HPQ shareholders and is expected to be complete by the end of fiscal 2015.
As it stands, however, Hewlett-Packard estimates current-quarter adjusted earnings per share in the range of $0.89 to $0.93, and GAAP earnings per share of $0.72 to $0.76. For the full fiscal 2015, HP expects adjusted earnings per share of $3.83 to $4.03, and GAAP earnings per share of $3.23 to $3.43. Note that these outlooks do not include costs associated with the impending separation, which HP expects to be non-GAAP adjustments beginning in the current quarter. For reference, the midpoint of both non-GAAP ranges also sits just below Wall Street's models, which called for adjusted fiscal first quarter and full-year 2015 earnings of $0.93 per share and $3.95 per share, respectively.
All things considered, between HP's continued turnaround progress, and minor misses on both its fiscal Q3 revenue and forward earnings guidance, today's muted negative reaction should come as little surprise. In addition to watching the unfolding performance of each of HP's segments as a sign of things to come, of greater consequence going forward is how smoothly HP's separation progresses. If all goes according to plan in fiscal 2015, that move could go a long way toward finally rewarding long-term HP investors for their patience.
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