Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest computer company, has just turned in a decent set of financial results, with fourth quarter turnover up by 8% to $33.3 billion, and net profits by 5% to $2.5 billion. For the full year, HP's turnover grew by 10% to $126 billion, and net profits by 14% to $8.8 billion. Results beat Wall Street projections.
The main takeaway from the results is that businesses are spending more money while consumers are not. For example, sales of Enterprise Storage and Servers (ESS) were up 25% in the fourth quarter, with sales of ESS blades up 51%. In the Personal Systems Group, HP said: "Notebook revenue for the quarter was down 3% from the prior year period, while Desktop revenue increased 13%. Commercial client revenue was up 20%, while Consumer client revenue declined 10%."
Dell also "beat the street" with record third quarter earnings that increased by 19% to $15.4 billion, with profits jumping 144% to $822 million. Dell benefited from strong sales to business users -- up 24% -- but even its consumer business increased sales by 4% to $3 billion.
Dell said it "streamlined its Consumer offerings to three brands: Inspiron, XPS and Alienware during the quarter". This signals the end of the design-oriented and style-conscious Studio and Adamo ranges and a return to a focus on price-performance.
Both Dell and HP are benefiting from what looks like the start of a corporate refresh cycle driven partly by the move to Microsoft Windows 7. It doesn't mean that boom times are ahead, but it may mean that they can ride the recession without too much pain.