HP's move to combine its PC and printer units effectively created two companies focused on the consumer and enterprise. The latter is likely to represent the growth going forward.
The combination of the PC and printing groups was billed as a way to save money, improve service and drive innovation. A skeptic could also argue that HP was combining two units that face some potholes ahead. The combination of the post PC and digital eras mean so-so computer, printer and ink sales.
Indeed, HP's fiscal 2011 was already the tale of two companies. HP's PC unit's revenue for the year fell 3 percent. The printer unit showed no growth. The PC and printer units combined delivered 2011 operating income of $6.32 billion on revenue of $65.36 billion.
Now compare that sum to HP's enterprise parts---services, hardware and software: 2011 operating profits of $8.87 billion on revenue of $61.4 billion.
Obviously, HP's enterprise business is more profitable. It is also delivering better growth. HP's enterprise, servers, storage and networking business grew revenue 9 percent for the year; software was up 9 percent and services up 1 percent.
In other words, HP's decision to combine the PC and printer divisions may have been more about creating a slow-growth half of the company. HP's future market cap is likely to be pegged to the enterprise side of the business.
How HP values the two sides of its business will be reflected in future research and development investment. One guess: The investment will flow to the side carrying the team and that's the enterprise side of the house.