HP CEO: COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced our consumer business

HP CEO Enrique Lores is entering his new fiscal year armed with $5.1 billion in gross cash to spend on stock buybacks and dividends and a budding margin turnaround at the important printer business.

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc on the financial statements of Corporate America, Lores’ position at HP is not a bad one to be in right now even if things aren’t 100% perfect at the computing giant.

“I think we are showing good performance across many businesses of the company. And clearly the pandemic has reinforced the businesses that we have on the consumer side and help us in that direction,” Lores told Yahoo Finance Live in the wake of a 10 cent fourth fiscal quarter earnings beat Tuesday evening.

HP (HPQ) shares popped 6% in pre-market trading Wednesday.


“At the same time, we continue to make progress executing all of our strategies, whether it is to advance the leadership that we have in PCs and print to create new categories, but also to transform the company and become more efficient,” said Lores. “So we will look at the impact that all of those things are having as what is behind the success and the progress we are making, as reflected in our results.”

Here are HP’s fourth fiscal quarter results, compared to Bloomberg estimates:

  • Total Revenue: $15.3 billion (sales fell 1% from same time a year ago) vs. $14.69 billion

  • Non-GAAP EPS: 62 cents vs. 52 cents

  • First Fiscal Quarter EPS Guidance: 64 cents a share to 70 cents vs. 54 cents

Sales at HP’s personal systems and printing segments were unchanged and fell 3%, respectively, from the prior year. Sales growth was notched inside the consumer segments of each division, reflecting consumers buying notebook computers and printers to work from home. Commercial sales dropped as workers have migrated from offices where large printers and desktops reign supreme — hence less desire by businesses to buy new hardware.

Boxes of Hewlett Packard printers are stacked up at a Best Buy store in Mountain View, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2007. Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's biggest PC seller, is scheduled to report fourth-quarter financial results after the market closes on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007. Wall Street is expecting another comfortably profitable quarter from the Palo Alto-based technology giant amid continued healthy demand for its crown jewel product _ lucrative printer ink _ and surging global PC sales, particularly for laptop computers.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Boxes of Hewlett Packard printers are stacked up at a Best Buy store in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Operating profits at HP’s personal systems segment fell slightly on a sequential basis, but rose 260 basis points at the printer business. Lores told Yahoo Finance the printer business bottomed in the third fiscal quarter.

The Street very often has a lot to weigh on HP.

The company isn’t exactly a high growth tech juggernaut like any one of the FAANG stocks. But, Lores continues to gain high marks on the Street for his management of the business during the pandemic — which includes a very watchful eye on expenses and a push to innovate in both the printer and computing sides of the businesses. HP has frankly just done good amidst the pandemic to build goodwill among households, moving quickly to support the computing needs of students.

And now with expense tailwinds at his back supporting margins, Lores looks ready to become even more aggressive on the cash deployment front to drive a higher stock price.

“If I look at what we did in the third quarter and fourth quarter combined, we bought back close to 10% of the outstanding shares of the company. I would say this is a fairly remarkable number,” Lores told Yahoo Finance. “And we have also announced that going forward, we are going to buy at least $1 billion of shares per quarter. And we also have announced that we are going to be increasing our dividend by 10% in 2021. So we remain fully committed to returning capital to shareholders. We have done that during the last two quarters, and we will continue to do that in the coming quarters.”

Again, not a bad position to be in for Lores and his shareholders.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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