When Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) reported fiscal-fourth-quarter results after the bell last week, the market initially pushed shares down around 1% as revenue missed expectations. But thanks largely to color added by management during their subsequent one-hour conference call with analysts, Hewlett-Packard stock quickly rebounded and sits up around 4% since the announcement.
Here are five important points made by Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman during that conference call:
This is a long-term turnaround
"As we exit the third year of our five-year turnaround effort, I have to say that fiscal 2014 overall was a very strong year. Our performance came in right where it should be and we've delivered on our promises."
Perhaps more than anything a reminder for short-sighted investors, this is also an unmistakable nod to the late-2011 beginning of Whitman's tenure as HP's CEO -- shortly after which the company's long-term turnaround efforts began. Keeping in mind HP's fiscal-fourth-quarter earnings technically fell at the high end of its own guidance, Whitman's assertion that the tech behemoth's plans are falling into place seems fair.
Operating margin is expanding
"We have also made significant operational improvements across each of our businesses that are paying off in our improved profitability, customer and partner engagement, and employee experience. In fact, we saw year-over-year operating margin expansion in every one of our businesses in the fourth quarter for the first time in many years."
Specifically, the last time we saw expanded operating margin from every HP business was in May 2012. To be sure, as revenue growth languishes, executing on operational efficiencies to bolster the bottom line is paramount to Hewlett-Packard's efforts.
HP made good on its acquisition promise
"Earlier this year, we announced HP Helion, a portfolio of cloud products and services that enable organizations to build, manage and consume workload in hybrid IT environment. In the fourth quarter, we continued our momentum in HP Helion, with the acquisition of Eucalyptus, a provider of open source software for building private and hybrid enterprise clouds."
For perspective, remember three months ago Whitman told investors HP was ready to consider acquisitions, but only if such purchases fulfill a purpose HP can't achieve organically through its own core R&D. As a result, when HP announced its Eucalyptus acquisition in mid-September, it spoke volumes regarding the strength of the cloud-based enterprise technology it was bringing into the fold.
Innovation at HP is alive and well
"We were able to deliver this performance while continuing to invest in the critical innovation that will be the foundation of HP's future. In fiscal 2014, we increased research and development spending by 10% over the prior year, as we increased investment in every segment, including cloud, infrastructure, 3D Printing and of course, the machine. ... We announced exciting new products and services across our businesses and as we enter 2015, we have the strongest portfolio we've had in a decade."
In addition to Helion, among the latest innovations Whitman discussed are Open NFV, a network virtualization initiative aimed at helping telecom service providers launch services faster and with less expense, the HP Apollo family of space and energy-efficient, high-performance servers, and HP Multi Jet Fusion, a new 3-D printing technology that HP says is 10 times faster than existing additive manufacturing solutions, but with "better quality and lower cost."
The business separation is officially under way
"It's still early in the process but we have a comprehensive plan to ensure that we execute a successful separation with minimal disruption to the business. We have already established a separation management office, task[ed] with driving the separation process, while allowing the company to continue to execute our FY '15 programs."
Finally, we can't forget about HP's historic, years-in-the-making corporate separation announced in early October. That separation is expected to be complete by the end of fiscal 2015 and will result in a tax-free spinoff into two publicly traded companies -- one to handle HP's personal systems and printing, and the other to tackle enterprise-related offerings -- and according to Whitman, it is well under way. But because she also noted it's still early, current HP investors will need to hurry up and wait for more details in the coming months on how the value-creating split is progressing.
If all goes as planned, however, and if HP can continue executing on its existing turnaround in the meantime, long-term Hewlett-Packard stock investors could be well-rewarded for their patience.