HP earnings: What Wall Street is looking for

Is HP's split good for investors?
Is HP's split good for investors?

Hewlett-Packard is scheduled to report fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday after the bell, but investors will not be looking at fundamentals, according to Dan Ives, technology analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

"This quarter is not about fundamentals, it's more of a 'clean up' quarter," Ives said. In particular, he said, investors will look for clues about how the company is doing after spinning off its enterprise business and creating two publicly traded companies on Nov. 2: HP Enterprise and HP Inc.

Tuesday's fourth quarter statement will be the last time the two units report together.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect HP Inc — which includes the company's personal systems and printing business — to report earnings per share of 45 cents a share on revenue of $12.86 billion.

Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard
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Kulbinder Garcha, a technology analyst at Credit Suisse, said in a note last week he is optimistic about HP Inc's printer and computer business.

"We remain positive about HP Inc's ability to penetrate the commercial space with its new business inkjet printers, and see a mix shift towards commercial, helping the profitable supplies business," Garcha said.

"We note that overall channel inventory of PCs was elevated in the middle of the year, but has now normalized, as per Microsoft. However, with an aging installed base, new OS, and new touch friendly form factors, we believe growth could return to the PC industry in fiscal second-half 2016."

An employee selects a packaged HP desktop computer, produced by Hewlett-Packard Co., from a pallet in a warehouse in London.
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HP Enterprise — which includes the company's IT and cloud businesses — is expected to post earnings per share of 52 cents on revenue of $13.5 billion.

Garcha said: "While IT budgets continue to expand at the 2-to-3 percent range, we believe the secular impact of the public cloud (driven largely by players such as Amazon Web Services) means that revenue growth for many of the traditional enterprise players … remains challenging from a top-down perspective."

Ives also said investors will look for clues about Hewlett-Packard's plans regarding future mergers and acquisitions.

"If there is a sense they are going to take a 'wait-and-see' attitude, that could be perceived as negative," he said. "A lot of investors are looking at [HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman] to see what her hand is."

In a note Monday, Ives said he expects HP Enterprise to have over $5 billion in cash for M&A. "We believe if these legacy tech stalwarts continue to stay on the 'innovation treadmill' at a speed of 2.5 mph speed there is a clear risk that the opportunity to grab a sizable piece of this $200 billion cloud market could fade away."

Shares of HP Enterprise have fallen over 8 percent since they began trading, while HP Inc's stock has gained about 6 percent.

HPE (green) and HPQ (blue) shares since Nov. 2

Source: FactSet