HP Can't Stop Worrying About Tomorrow
Little Growth Today, Little Hope for Tomorrow
HP's stock, which has been on a steady decline, losing over 30% of its value since starting the year at $25, is now under further attack. On Wednesday, the company confirmed what investors have feared for quite some time -- things are going to get worse before it gets better.
The company's CEO, Meg Whitman warned that HP's business segments are in a steep decline and investors shouldn't expect much for all of 2013 as revenues are set to fall in every area except software.
Even more concerning was that HP has now admitted that it can no longer leverage its once-dominant enterprise footprint. Revenue from its service business is expected to drop by 11% to 13% for fiscal year 2013. In other words, forget profitability -- particularly with margins expected to possibly go to zero and only as high as 3%.
Whitman then advised it would not be until 2014 when the company would show some semblance of a turnaround as its investments at that point would then begin to payoff. But Wall Street cared very little about waiting that long. As a result, investors punished the stock mercilessly, sending shares down 13% to $14.91 -- levels it had not seen in nine years.
I'm still a believer in Whitman, but this has to come as a disappointment -- even though not much has been expected from the company in terms of growth. Though HP was a mess when she took over, it is tough to dismiss the 35% loss the company's stock has suffered since she took over just a little over a year ago.
A lot of that can be attributed to the mobile device and tablet surge which has affected its PC business. But a great manager knows how to stop the bleeding.
That said, it is possible that HP could have been overvalued and perhaps analysts expected much more from HP than its talents and market reach could deliver. That's not a sentiment fitting for a company of its stature, but clearly there was a disconnect as the stock has lost almost 70% of its value since 2010.
What Is HP Today?
Its challenge now is figuring out a way to restore the confidence of Wall Street. Not an easy task at this point, but not impossible. To that end it has been working hard to prove that it does not need to be Apple (AAPL) in order to survive. Unfortunately, in the process, it has tried to become an enterprise computing corporation -- one that follows the mold of IBM (IBM) and to a lesser extent Dell (DELL) . But it has been unsuccessful.