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It may be surprising to see
HPQ) on a list of stocks that are paying out the highest shareholder yield. After all, HP has gotten a reputation for destroying shareholder value after debacles such as its $11 billion Autonomy acquisition. But, in fact, HP has been dishing out shareholder yield by the fistful, offering investors a 17.6% value boost in the last 12 months.
In a lot of ways, HP's missteps and massive spending on dividends, buybacks and debt extinguishment are related. The firm entered 2010 with more than $13 billion in cash on its balance sheet, and it needed to find a way to generate a meaningful return on that huge pile of loot. Unfortunately, it would have been better off just handing it back over to its shareholders in the first place.
Even so, Hewlett-Packard has been doing a very good job of moving from the commodity PC business over to services, hardware, and software for enterprise customers. Today, that business adds up to 45% of HPQ's total sales; PCs are just 30%. Filling in the balance are printers, which offer a high moat huge margin business for the firm, even if they're typically lumped with PCs for reporting purposes.
Sure enough, HP could justify a second look this year.