Thinking Tech

Did HP just ruin the tech recovery?

Posting in Finance

The news here is that HP is back. It is stable, it can adjust to change, it has strong cash flow, there is no reason for drama here.

No.

The tech economy is changing. HP got caught in the crosswind, and it says it's already doing something about it.

Look what happened closely. The top line says PC sales slowed.But unit sales were up 2%, in line with the idea of a slow recovery.

The problem is my HP Mini cost me less than $300, half what a true notebook (or even a desktop, with the screen and chassis integrated) would go for.

The other problem? Ink sales are down. People are printing less. They're outputting to computer files or the Internet, not to paper.

This is good news for the planet. It also means business cares more about efficiency and is willing to forego the comfort factor of a paper report for some PDF files that everyone can look at on a laptop.

Look closely at what the company actually reported, not just the press spin on this. Results were around the mid-point of previous estimates. Its competitive position is improved. Service revenues nearly doubled (thanks to EDS), results in China grew double-digits, and revenues in the Americas actually grew 8%.

CEO Mark Hurd (above) is being cautious. HP is not calling Windows 7 the greatest thing since sliced cheese. Hooray.

In contrast to the last recession HP is delivering on earnings. It may sell some outsourcing businesses and concentrate more on EDS, where margins are healthier. There is no drama, no finger-pointing, no rush to buy a competitor thinking consolidation will force customers to pay monopoly rents.

If Hurd were running for Senate this cycle maybe Barbara Boxer would have something to worry about. For now the only way to vote for Hurd is through your broker.

The news here is that HP is back. It is stable, it can adjust to change, it has strong cash flow, there is no reason for drama here.

If you want to see the tech recovery ruined you need to look elsewhere.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure