Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) just reported mixed fiscal first-quarter 2015 results and reduced guidance, and the market predictably punished the stock in a big way. But that doesn't mean HP's performance was all bad.
Shares of the tech giant dropped nearly 10% Wednesday after it said quarterly net revenue fell 5% year over year (2% on a constant currency basis) to $26.8 billion. That translated to 2% growth in adjusted earnings per diluted share to $0.92, which, similar to last quarter's mixed results, was near the high end of HP's expected range of $0.89 to $0.93 per share. It's also worth noting that that figure was helped by HP's move to repurchase 41.1 million shares for $1.6 billion during the quarter. At the same time, HP generated $744 million in cash flow from operations -- down 75% from the same year-ago period, largely thanks to separation costs -- and ended the quarter with $13.3 billion in gross cash.
Analysts, on average, were expecting slightly lower earnings of $0.91 per share, on higher sales of $27.35 billion.
Breaking it down
Personal Systems revenue was relatively flat year over year, including a 1% decrease in commercial revenue and a 2% increase in consumer revenue. Within that, notebook units continued their extended trend of outperformance by increasing 21%, while desktop units fell 7% to bring total unit growth to 9%.
Similiarly, Enterprise Group revenue was also flat year over year, helped by 7% growth in industry standard servers, and hindered by flat storage sales, a 9% decline from Business Critical Systems, a 5% fall in technology services, and an 11% drop in networking revenue.
That said, Bloomberg reported late Wednesday that HP might be in talks to acquire wireless infrastructure specialist Aruba Networks (NASDAQ: ARUN). If HP can secure the deal at a reasonable price, it would not only increase its quarterly networking revenue by almost 40%, but it would also fulfill HP CEO Meg Whitman's promise last year to pursue growth by acquisitions in cases where it wouldn't make sense to do so through core R&D.
Meanwhile, revenue in every other segment continued to fall, including a 5% decline in Printing revenue, an 11% drop from Enterprise Services, a 5% decrease in Software sales, and an 8% decline from HP's Financial Services segment.
Updates on the separation and guidance
Even so, Whitman insisted, "With the first quarter of fiscal 2015 now behind us, the HP turnaround remains on track." She elaborated, "We grew operating profit margins across all of our major business segments, increased investment in innovation, and executed well across key areas of our portfolio and in our separation activities."
Despite that progress, however, HP is expecting to continue facing currency headwinds in 2015 as the U.S. dollar grows stronger. As a result, HP sees current-quarter adjusted earnings per share in the range of $0.84 to $0.88, including an estimated negative currency impact of $0.09 per share. That's below analysts' estimates, which called for fiscal second-quarter earnings of $0.96 per share.
HP also noted this non-GAAP range excludes around $0.27 per share in costs related to the impending separation of its business into two distinct entities. For reference, the first will be dubbed "HP," and will consist of Hewlett-Packard's Personal Systems and Printing businesses. And the second, "Hewlett-Packard Enterprise," will contain its Enterprise, Software, and Services segments.
For the full fiscal year 2015, HP sees adjusted earnings per diluted share of $3.53 to $3.73, including a negative currency impact of $0.30 per share. Keep in mind without that impact, HP's new range would be in-line with the guidance it provided during last quarter's call. Note HP's 2015 guidance also excludes roughly $1.50 per share in separation costs, amortization of intangibles, restructuring charges, and acquisition-related expenses. HP warned investors to anticipate these separation charges during its call three months ago -- though to be fair, many hadn't expected them to be quite so significant.
Whitman added on currency: "We'll work hard to offset these impacts through repricing and productivity, but fully mitigating currency movements of this size would require reducing investments and mortgaging our future. We won't do that."
Fair enough. In the end, the negative effects of currency changes certainly aren't ideal, and it's hard to blame the market for bidding Hewlett-Packard stock down today. But this is also part of the challenge of operating a fast-changing enterprise on a global scale, and HP can only do so much to offset particularly wide currency swings. Considering HP's performance otherwise was essentially in line with what it's been promising all along, I still think the stock is worth considering for patient, long-term investors.