HP profit falls 44 per cent amid weak PC sales

Sales of HP printers and PCs both declined, though its services revenue was up a fraction

Hewlett-Packard's profit dipped sharply in the first quarter as consumers slowed spending on its PCs and printers, HP announced Wednesday.

Revenue from HP's massive Personal Systems Group, which sells PCs and workstations, declined 15 per cent from last year to $US8.9 billion, HP said. Sales to consumers dropped by a quarter from last year, while sales of business PCs slid 15 per cent.

HP's Imaging and Printing Group also fared poorly. Revenue was down 7 per cent to $6.3 billion, HP said, with sales to consumers hit hardest.

HP is trying to reinvigorate itself after a difficult year in which it said it might spin off its PC division and then changed its mind, and in which it made an ill-fated foray into the tablet market, only to give up on it some months later.

HP met its own profit goals for the quarter, President and CEO Meg Whitman said in a statement, and is "taking the necessary steps to improve execution."

Whitman took the helm of HP last September after the board ousted former CEO Leo Apotheker, who lasted in the job less than a year. This was HP's first full quarter under the former eBay chief.

Total revenue for the quarter, ended January 31, was $US30 billion, down 7 per cent from last year, HP said. Net profit was $US1.5 billion, down 44 per cent, or earnings per share of $US0.73.

Before one-time charges, HP's earnings would have been $US0.92 per share, better than the $US0.87 analysts had been expecting, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters, and in line with HP's earlier guidance.

HP's other big division, its services group, grew revenue just 1 per cent year-over-year to $US8.6 billion. Revenue from enterprise storage and servers fell 10 per cent, while revenue from software grew 10 per cent.

For the second quarter under way, HP expects earnings before one-time items of $US0.88 to $US0.91 per share, it said, slightly below the analyst forecast. It left its target for the full year unchanged, expecting at least $US4 per share.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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