HP reports 44% decline in quarterly profit

Hewlett-Packard has reported a 44% decline in earnings mainly because of poor sales of PCs, printers and enterprise equipment.

Hewlett-Packard has reported a 44% decline in earnings for the quarter ended 31 January 2012, mainly because of poor sales of PCs, printers and enterprise equipment.

Net income was $1.5bn for the fiscal first quarter, down from $2.6bn in the same period the year before, while revenue was down 7% to $30bn.

Earnings per share was down 32% to 92 cents, but beat analysts' average estimate of 87 cents, according to Reuters

The overall performance was not well-received by investors and HP's stock dropped 1.39% to close at $28.94 in New York, sliding lower to around $28.77 in after-hours trading.

"In the first quarter, we delivered on our Q1 outlook and remained focused on the fundamentals to drive long-term sustainable returns," said Meg Whitman, HP president and chief executive officer.

 "We are taking the necessary steps to improve execution, increase effectiveness and capitalise on emerging opportunities to reassert HP's technology leadership," she said.  

Whitman, appointed to her post in September 2011,  plans to tackle falling revenues as a top priority, but the Financial Times reports that she has warned it could take years for HP to recover from under-investment that has damaged its competitiveness.

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In addition to declining sales in PCs, printers and enterprise equipment, HP was hit by declining profit margins in its imaging and printing and services divisions, and hard-disk drive shortages caused by floods in Thailand.

Whitman said HP responded to the supply shortages by focusing production on its most profitable computer hardware, but had been unable to make all the adjustments it wanted because of what she called "deeper weaknesses" in the global supply chain.

Despite the weak quarter, Whitman tried to rally customers, investors and employees, saying that she intends to push the company out of its slump, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While she did not unveil a detailed plan, Whitman offered a broad picture of her plans including cutting costs and improving the performance of HP's existing businesses.

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