Arik Hesseldahl

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HP Says 2014 Will Be Good, Maybe Not Awesome, as Turnaround Is on Track

hp_logo_darkAfter its CEO Meg Whitman sounded a relatively positive note in a speech to financial analysts Wednesday morning, computing giant Hewlett-Packard said it expects the coming fiscal year to be better/worse than it expected.

The company just issued guidance saying that it expects to earn between $3.55 and $3.75 a share in 2014, which straddles the consensus expectation of analysts, who are forecasting $3.63 a share. HP said it expects sales to grow in line with the gross domestic product in the U.S. It also said it expects to return at least 50 percent of the $6 billion to $6.5 billion free cash flow it plans to generate in 2014 to shareholders, via dividends and share buybacks.

Expect more details on revenue expectations from CFO Cathie Lesjak when she makes her formal remarks at a meeting with financial analysts in San Jose, Calif., later today.

HP shares, which rallied by more than six percent after Whitman’s remarks, maintained most of that momentum. Its shares were trading at $21.91, up $1.16 as of 1:40 pm ET.

The original announcement is below:

HP Provides Update on Turnaround Progress, Provides Fiscal 2014 Outlook

SAN JOSE, CA — Estimates non-GAAP diluted EPS for fiscal 2014 of $3.55 to $3.75 and GAAP diluted EPS for fiscal 2014 of $2.85 to $3.05

Models free cash flow of $6 billion to $6.5 billion in fiscal 2014

Expects to return at least 50% of fiscal 2014 free cash flow to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases

Today at HP’s 2013 Securities Analyst Meeting, the company’s leadership team provided an update on HP’s progress executing against its turnaround plan and future strategy.

HP’s president and chief executive officer Meg Whitman reviewed the accomplishments of the past year — a “fix and rebuild” year — noting that the multi-year turnaround remains broadly on track. In particular, the company:

Has met or exceeded quarterly non-GAAP diluted earnings per share (EPS) outlook since the turnaround plan began through Q3 of fiscal 2013.

Provided outlook in August that HP expects free cash flow to approach $8 billion by the end of FY13.

Reduced operating company net debt by almost $8 billion over the past 12 months, approaching a goal of zero.

Recommitted to smarter innovation, with research and development (R&D) spending expected to be in excess of $3 billion in fiscal 2013.

“While there is a lot more work to be done, I am confident about the progress we are making,” said Whitman. “We’re producing tangible results, strengthening our balance sheet and delivering innovative products across all our key segments. We are implementing the changes needed to support our multi-year turnaround journey, reaffirm HP’s leadership position, and create enduring value for customers as well as for our shareholders.”

The core of HP’s strategy is focused on providing unique technology solutions for the “New Style of IT.” HP has the combination of hardware, software, scale and innovation to provide the integrated solutions that help customers realize the full benefits of cloud, security, big data and mobility.

While the company faces a challenging macro environment, shifting market forces and a rapidly changing competitive landscape, Whitman emphasized that the company has the right leadership team in place to advance its strategy, drive innovation across the business and improve its go-to-market execution. Whitman reiterated that she expects HP’s revenues to grow in line with gross domestic product (GDP) over the long term.

2014 outlook

Cathie Lesjak, HP’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, provided a financial outlook for fiscal 2014. With pockets of growth helping to offset continuing challenges in the macro environment and weak public sector spending, HP expects the year-over-year revenue decline in fiscal 2014 will moderate from fiscal 2013.

HP anticipates operating profit dollars to be flat to up year-over-year in fiscal 2014, due to its continued focus on cost savings and operational efficiency. The company estimates non-GAAP diluted EPS for fiscal 2014 to be in the range of $3.55 to $3.75. HP estimates GAAP diluted EPS to be in the range of $2.85 to $3.05 for fiscal 2014. Fiscal 2014 non-GAAP diluted EPS estimates exclude after-tax costs related primarily to the amortization of purchased intangible assets and a restructuring charge of approximately $0.8 billion.

HP expects to generate approximately $9 billion to $9.5 billion in cash flow from operations in fiscal 2014. After deducting estimated fiscal 2014 capital expenditures, the company anticipates free cash flow of $6 billion to $6.5 billion in fiscal 2014.

Lesjak articulated the company’s long-term commitment to financial discipline and a returns-based capital allocation strategy. In fiscal 2014, the company is expecting to return at least 50% of free cash flow to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.

In addition, HP will invest in its product portfolio to accelerate high-growth areas in the New Style of IT. HP plans to reinvest approximately $0.12 per share of savings from its restructuring program into the business in fiscal 2014, including products and solutions such as 3PAR, networking, Vertica and cloud solutions.

A copy of Lesjak’s presentation materials accompanies this release.

Business segment strategies

Over the course of the day, HP’s management team also laid out updated strategies for the company’s business segments, including:

Printing and Personal Systems
Dion Weisler, executive vice president of the Printing and Personal Systems (PPS) business, and Steve Nigro, senior vice president of the Inkjet and Web Solutions Business, part of the Printing business, gave an update on PPS. Personal Systems continues to see traction in commercial, where it outgrew the market in the most recent calendar quarter over the same period last year. Printing continues to build on its long-standing market leadership across both ink and laser and introduced a number of new breakthrough products in both categories during fiscal 2013.

In fiscal 2014, PPS will focus on continuing to deliver on its leadership in traditional markets as well as driving product innovation and developing print solutions that address the New Style of IT. PPS’ priorities include profitable growth through greater segmentation, continued product innovation and using its leadership position in commercial to address opportunities in mobility, cloud and security.

Enterprise Group
Bill Veghte, executive vice president and general manager of HP’s Enterprise Group (EG), discussed the company’s opportunities in the $221 billion enterprise infrastructure market. As enterprise customers move to a New Style of IT, requiring more compute, more storage and more bandwidth, they will need solutions built on modern architectures and innovations designed for the future.

Veghte acknowledged executional challenges facing the HP EG business and provided a detailed plan to accelerate execution against great business opportunity — highlighting adjustments to leadership, operating model, route-to-market, and product and solution portfolio.

Veghte also gave a strategic overview of HP Converged Cloud and pointed to significant momentum in the past year as enterprises are rapidly adopting HP’s hybrid cloud strategy. More than 1,900 enterprise customers have turned to HP for their hybrid cloud solution in the past year, representing approximately 60% year-over-year customer growth.

Enterprise Services
Mike Nefkens, executive vice president and general manager of Enterprise Services (ES), and JJ Charhon, senior vice president and chief operating officer of ES, provided an update on how ES has made progress on improving operations and better aligning costs with business objectives during the first three quarters in fiscal 2013.

Key priorities for fiscal 2014 include a focus on the buildup of advisory and transformation offerings, world-class service delivery, revitalization of the sales engine, and ongoing cultural transformation across the organization.

ES revenue is expected to decline 4% to 6% year-over-year in fiscal 2014. However, a sharp focus on operational improvements is expected to drive an improved operating margin of 3.5% to 4.5%. ES maintains its long-term financial model of 3% to 5% revenue growth, an operating margin rate of 7% to 9% and return on invested capital of 15% to 25%.

George Kadifa, executive vice president of Software, spoke about how Software is enabling the New Style of IT and accelerating HP’s ability to capture attractive market opportunities. The business is driving profit expansion, while disrupting markets with the breadth and depth of its technology offerings.

Looking forward, Software will focus on its differentiated strategy and strong product portfolio as well as continued operational improvements. HP estimates the total addressable enterprise software market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8% and by 2016, expects that market to be $69 billion.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik