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HP's 1Q offers glimmer of hope, stock surges

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm •  Published: February 21, 2013

HP isn't predicting when its revenue downturn might end. In a conference call with analysts, Whitman said HP still faces a "long road ahead" before its revenue is growing again. To help offset the revenue decline, HP is in the process of eliminating 29,000 jobs, or about 8 percent of the workforce when it was announced, in a streamlining scheduled to be completed by Oct. 2014. Whitman said about 15,300 of the jobs targeted in the cost-cutting program have been jettisoned so far. About 3,500 people left in the most recent quarter.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company's biggest headaches remain rooted in the HP division that includes PCs, where revenue fell 8 percent from the previous year. Printer sales also continued to slide, although not quite as severely, with a 5 percent decrease.

Whitman is trying to reverse the trend by expanding into tablet computers and selling an array of machines running on Windows 8, a radical redesign of Microsoft's widely used operating system.

HP had tried to previously challenge Apple Inc.'s trend-setting iPad in 2011 with a tablet running on software that it acquired from Palm Inc., only to quickly abandon the device. The company's latest tablets run on Windows 8 or scaled-down versions of that operating system.

Whitman also believes HP could benefit from rival Dell Inc.'s agreement to sell itself to CEO Michael Dell and a group of investors for $24.4 billion. If it's approved the deal could saddle Dell with an additional $15 billion in debt — a burden that Whitman believes will raise questions about the company's ability to innovate and tend to the needs of its corporate customers.

"It is an opportunity for us because I know firsthand what instability is like," Whitman said in the AP interview. "I think we are really well positioned for this next big shift in technology. We are excited about it and feel good about where we are."

Dell's decision to end its 25-year history as a publicly traded company has spurred speculation that HP might take a radical step, too, to boost its stock price. The most popular theory is that HP will sell or spin off its PC and printer operations to concentrate on more profitable technology markets in business software and various services.

"We have no plans to break up HP," Whitman said in an interview. "We are convinced that these divisions are better together than they are alone."