HP CEO Whitman 'satisfied' with PC growth, defends enterprise unit

Meg Whitman sounded more optimistic during Thursday's shareholders call than previous quarters, highlighting PC market growth in commercial segments.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman has warned in the past that the tech giant is still in the midst of a "multi-year journey" to recovery, even advising against expecting revenue growth in 2014.

However, HP surprised Wall Street with better-than-expected results for the first quarter, largely (and surprisingly) in part to the the PC unit, which taken as a whole did grow revenue. (Consumer PC sales still fell 3 percent.)

During the shareholders conference call on Thursday, Whitman boasted immediately that HP is now in "a stronger position than we have been in quite some time."

Whitman attributed part of this to HP's response to the industry-wide acceleration toward a "new style of IT," while touting HP's converged cloud and storage portfolios in particular.

In the enterprise group, which did grow revenue by one percent, Whitman hinted at continued struggles anyway, reminding shareholders that HP is still in the "early innings" of rolling out "more proactive sales approach."

"Over time we do expect to improve margins in this business," Whitman said about the enterprise unit, adding later that she is pleased with the way things are going overall.

Whitman also reiterated that PC market contractions are finally slowing, particularly in commercial segments.

The lesson being learned, according to Whitman, is that commercial customers are now understanding that employees do want a tablet, but they also want a PC to get their work done when at their desks.

Contrasting it with the PC business, Whitman clarified during the Q&A session that the enterprise department turnaround "has nothing to do with transactional business."

"These are long-term contracts, so it takes awhile to turn the ship around," Whitman defended, concluding that results and improvements are panning out so far just as she and chief financial officer Cathie Lesjak predicted they would.

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