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Friday, November 17, 2006

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Earnings: Red Flag On Slowing Tech

The market was not unhappy about HP's earnings, but the applause was muted.

HP's revenue rose 7% in its fiscal Q4 to $24.6 billion. The company forecast that annual sales for its 2007 fiscal year would rise about the same amount to $97 billion.

HP's stock fell about 2% after hours to $39.60. The shares have been trading near their 62-week high.

Revenue at HP's big personal systems group, which sells PCs, rose 10% to $7.8 billion, and revenue was up 7% at HP's imaging and printing group, hitting $7.3 billion. But, therein lies the problem. These two units are almost $15 billion of the quarter's $24 billion plus in revenue. And, the growth at the operations are unimpressive.

In fiscal 2004, HP grew 9%. In fiscal 2005, revenue was up 9% again. Even with the share that the company is taking from Dell in the large PC market, HP's rapid growth is behind it, at least for now.

At $40, the stock is now rich. Morningstar carries a "fair market" value of $30 on the stock and suggests that investors consider selling when the stock is above $37.60. For a company that has lost much of its top-line growth potential, that is not unfair.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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