HP cuts outlook as PC unit takes hit

HP reports better-than-expected first quarter earnings, but sales fell short of expectations. It is bracing itself with worse outlook amid poor PC sales.

HP cuts its outlook for the second quarter as its personal systems group suffered. CEO Meg Whitman said that the company was "taking the necessary steps to improve execution", in a statement.

The company reported first quarter earnings of US$1.5 billion, or 73 cents a share, on revenue of US$30 billion, down 7 percent from a year ago. Non-GAAP earnings were 92 cents a share. Wall Street was expecting HP to report first quarter earnings of 87 cents a share on revenue of US$30.67 billion.

HP's second quarter outlook was weaker than expected. HP said that second quarter non-GAAP earnings will be 88 cents a share to 91 cents a share. Wall Street was looking for earnings of 95 cents a share. HP said GAAP earnings will be 68 cents a share to 71 cents a share.

HP said that it still thinks it can hit its fiscal 2012 target of non-GAAP earnings of US$4 a share.

According to HP, the company saw first quarter revenue slide in multiple regions. In the Americas, first quarter revenue fell 9 percent to US$13.2 billion. Europe, Middle East and Africa sales fell 4 percent from a year ago to US$11.7 billion. Asia Pacific revenue in the first quarter fell 10 percent to US$5.2 billion. International revenue represented 66 percent of HP's total revenue.

On a conference call with analysts, Whitman said that HP was hit by an ongoing hard drive shortage as well as currency fluctuations in Japan.

Whitman added that "we are still experiencing a weak consumer market and those that are investing cautiously."

She said that HP would focus on investing in innovation, executing better and a "multi-year journey" to fix the business. "It took a while for us to get into this and it will take a while for us to get out," said Whitman.

By unit, HP took hits across the board. HP's enterprise server and networking, printing and personal systems group suffered. PC unit shipments fell 18 percent in the fiscal first quarter. Consumer PC sales fell 25 percent and commercial revenue fell 7 percent.

The bright spots included services revenue which was up 1 percent, and software revenue which was up 30 percent in the first quarter from a year ago.