Can just plain good earnings help HP?

Hewlett-Packard beats Street estimates, boosts guidance and downplays Europe's effect on results. The question is: Will investors agree?

By Charley Blaine May 18, 2010 8:05PM

© Don Carstens/Jupiterimages If this was an ordinary week, Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) strong fiscal-second-quarter results and its boost in  guidance would be cause for celebration.


You could see HP's stock soaring after hours and expect a good, strong open on Wednesday for the U.S. market.


HP shares were up 2.5% to $47.91 after hours; they fell 1.5% to $46.79 in regular trading.


But stocks may open lower overall on Wednesday because of the uncertainty created by the European debt crisis. And HP may get hit just as Home Depot (HD) was today.


Home Depot's fiscal-first-quarter results beat Street estimates, and the home-improvement retailer boosted its guidance. And yet the stock ended down 2.4% to $34.73.


 So, here's what HP said. Its business was boosted by corporate buyers replacing aging server computers and consumers buying new PCs.Hewlett-Packard


It earned $2.2 billion in net income on revenue of $30.8 billion. Net income was up 28% from a year ago. Revenue was up 13%.


Using generally accepted accounting practices, earnings were 91 cents a share, up 28% from a year ago. Under non-GAAP rules, earnings were $1.09 a share, up 27% from a year ago's 86 cents.


Analysts and investors care about the non-GAAP earnings because they remove a number of one-time charges. Wall Street had expected $1.06 a share in earnings, Reuters said, and revenue of $29.7 billion.


Then, it boosted its full-year guidance to a gain of 8% to 9%. That means roughly $123.7 billion to $124.9 billion. In February, the company was seeing revenue of $121.5 to $122.5 billion.


So, the big numbers and the guidance were solid wins. So, too, were the numbers in HP's main businesses. Revenue in its server business was up 31% to $4.5 billion.


Imaging-and-printer sales (including sales of supplies like printer ink) were up $8% to $6.4 billion. Hardware sales were up 13%.


Desktop and laptop computers sales were up 21% to $10 billion. Units sold were up 20%.


While the PC shipment growth sounds very good, BusinessWeek noted, market research firm Gartner says rival Acer's shipments grew 54.3%. Dell shipments were up 21.4%, and China's Lenovo saw shipments jump 59.2%.


The results were good enough that analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research said they should alleviate concerns that Europe's problems would cause big problems going forward.


On a call with analysts, Cathie Lesjak, HP's chief financial officer, said the company has been gaining market share over rivals such as Dell (DELL), which reports fiscal-first-quarter results on Thursday, and Oracle (ORCL). "We are doing better than just the economic recovery would suggest."


HP plans a foray into tablet-style computers that would compete with Apple's (AAPL) iPad, and CEO Mark Hurd is using acquisitions to expand into smart phones and the networking equipment market dominated by Cisco Systems (CSCO).


The worry about the declining euro's effect on HP shares is a big reason why its shares have fallen 16.5% since peaking in mid-April.


Apple is off 6.8% from its April high, with Dell off 13.5% and Oracle down 13%.



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