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HP CEO in the Spotlight: Tech Weekly Recap

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- HP (HPQ - Get Report) beat Wall Street's fourth-quarter estimates after market close on Monday, with new CEO Meg Whitman firmly in the spotlight.

Whitman, who replaced the ousted Leo Apotheker a bit more than two months ago, put in a solid performance on her first earnings call as HP chief.
HP CEO Meg Whitman.

Whereas her predecessor attempted to push through a controversial growth strategy, Whitman struck a more measured tone during her first conference call.

The former eBay (EBAY) chief explained that HP must get "back to basics" in executing its core business fundamentals, admitting that the tech giant struggled in this area during fiscal 2011.

Whitman also vowed to increase the company's investment in R&D, a clear nod to critics who have urged the tech giant to ramp up its innovation engine.

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HP earned $1.17 a share in the fourth quarter, down from $1.33 a share in the same period last year, but better than analysts' forecast of $1.13 a share.

The tech giant brought in revenue of $32.3 billion, down from $33.3 billion in the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were looking for sales of $32.05 billion.

HP, however, gave muted earnings guidance for fiscal 2012, amid an uncertain economy and the impact of Thailand's floods on the hard disk drive market.

Shares of HP closed down 39 cents, or 1.51% at $25.39 on Friday.

On Thursday, AT&T (T - Get Report) announced that it expects to take a $4 billion pretax charge in the fourth quarter to reflect breakup fees associated with its controversial merger with T-Mobile USA. The proposed deal had run into opposition from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.

AT&T and T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom (DT), withdrew their applications for FCC approval of the deal earlier this week, focusing, at least for now, on obtaining antitrust clearance from the DoJ.

The breakup fee, however, suggests that the deal's prospects look bleak, although this hardly spells the end of the world for AT&T, according to Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett.

"For AT&T, this represents an incremental step towards resolution, and arguably at a marginally lower break-up cost than some had feared," explained Moffett, in a research note released on Thursday. "The earlier this issue is resolved, the better."

There had been chatter that the breakup package could be valued at $6 billion.

In a news release, AT&T said the $4 billion charge would include $3 billion in cash and $1 billion in spectrum.

Shares of AT&T closed down 14 cents, or 0.51%, at $27.41 on Friday.
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