HP Beats Wall Street, Thanks to Laptops and Overseas Sales

By Christopher Saunders

August 20, 2008

Channel powerhouse Hewlett-Packard beat Wall Street expectations for its most recent quarter, continuing the trend of U.S.-based technology giants posting growth on strength in emerging foreign markets. For its fiscal third-quarter, the company posted $28 billion in revenues, up 10 percent compared to last year. Net income rise by 20 percent to $2.5 billion, or $0.80 per share, compared to the same period last year. Wall Street had anticipated profits of $0.84 per share before charges, on revenue of $27.43 billion, according to Reuters Estimate.

"By accelerating our enterprise growth and executing well across the portfolio, HP delivered a strong third-quarter performance," said Mark Hurd, HP's chairman and CEO. "Our global position, broad product and services offerings and incremental cost-saving opportunities make us confident that we'll continue to meaningfully expand earnings."

The company gave fiscal fourth-quarter earnings guidance of $0.95 to $0.97 per share, and $1.01 to $1.03 per share after taxes, slightly higher than Wall Street expectations, according to Reuters Estimates. HP also said revenues would total about $30.2 billion to $30.3 billion, a penny behind estimates.

However, those results won't include the impact of HP's pending acquisition of EDS to strengthen its services unit. HP expects that transaction to close during fourth quarter.

HP saw continued gains in revenue from the Americas with revenue increasing 4 percent from last year to $11.6 billion. But as with many of the tech industry's leaders, the lion's share of its revenue growth came from non-U.S., and especially emerging markets, as the economy cools at home.

Those trends contributed to 14 percent growth in the Asia Pacific region, where HP posted $5.2 billion in revenue, and 16 percent growth in the combined Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, where it recorded revenues of $11.2 billion. Taking currency fluctuations out of the equation puts HP's performance in the Americas into even sharper relief: revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa grew 5 percent, and revenue in Asia Pacific grew 8 percent. Meanwhile, by those calculations, revenue in the Americas grew only 3 percent.

HP said that non-U.S. revenue amounted to 68 percent of its total take, with revenue in the fast-growing "BRIC" region (Brazil, Russia, India and China) exploding 24 percent over the prior year. BRIC markets delivered 10 of HP's total revenue, it added

PC and notebook sales remained brisk, with revenues in HP's Personal Systems Group increasing 15 percent from last year, totaling $10.3 billion. Continued strength in notebook drove a large portion of that performance, with the category seeing 26 percent growth in revenue compared to a year ago. Desktop revenue, on the other hand, grew far more slowly at 6 percent. Overall unit shipments rose 20 percent during the same period.

HP's imaging and printing group saw anemic growth from last year, with revenues increasing only 3 percent to $7 billion. Revenue from the division's supplies unit grew 11 percent, which partially offset slowing revenue from commercial and consumer hardware, units that posted 5 percent and 14 percent declines in revenue, respectively, compared to last year.

The company also said printer shipments dropped 2 percent from last year.

On the enterprise front, HP said it raked in $4.7 billion in its storage and servers group, an increase of 5 percent from last year, growth the company attributed in large part to blades, which saw 66 percent higher revenues. Mid- and low-end storage sales also proved robust, contributing to 16 revenue growth in storage from a year ago.

Revenue in HP's services group, HPS, increased 14 percent from last year, to $4.8 billion. Technology services and consulting saw 13 percent growth in revenue each, while integration and outsourcing services posted revenue growth of 18 percent compared to last year.

Software revenues grew 29 percent versus the third quarter of last year, topping out at $781 million. HP's business technology optimization software group contributed the bulk of the gain, posting 32 percent growth in revenues.

HP's financial services unit also saw brisk gains of 17 percent from last year, totaling $680 million.

(This articles was adapted from Internetnews.com.)