HP CEO in the Spotlight: Tech Weekly Recap

PALO ALTO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- HP ( HPQ) 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) 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.

Apple ( AAPL) launched its annual Black Friday sale this week, offering discounts on its iPad 2, iPods, MacBooks and iMac.

The consumer tech giant cut the cost of its iPad 2 to $458 from $499, and its iPod Touch to $178 from $199. The Cupertino, Calif.- based company also offered its iPod Nano for $118, as opposed to its traditional list price of $129.

Discounts of $101 were also offered on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, according to the Apple Web site, while the iMac's list price was cut to $1,098 from $1,199.

The gadget maker teased the promotion earlier in the week, promising "a special one-day Apple shopping event" at its online store.

Apple shares closed down $3.49, or 0.95%, at $363.50 on Friday.

Nokia Siemens Networks announced plans to cut 17,000 jobs, 23% of its global workforce, on Wednesday, but said that no decisions have yet been made on the future its almost 3,850 U.S. employees.

The company is a joint venture of Finland's Nokia ( NOK) and Germany's Siemens ( SI).

Speaking during a conference call on Wednesday morning, Nokia Siemens Networks CEO Rajeev Suri opted not to provide country-specific breakdowns on the cuts. "We simply cannot do so until we complete country-level plans and reach the appropriate moment in local consultation processes," he said.

Nokia shares closed down 18 cents, or 3.29%, at $5.29 on Friday.

Online radio company Pandora ( P) reported a doubling of its third-quarter revenue after market close on Tuesday, but offered a weak outlook.

Pandora's revenue grew 99% year over year to $75 million in its October quarter. The company's adjusted profit came in at 2 cents a share. Analysts were looking for revenue of $71 million and a loss of 1 cent per share.

Total listener hours for the period doubled, to 2.1 billion.

For the current quarter ending in January, Pandora forecast an adjusted loss ranging from 2 to 4 cents a share on revenue of $80 million to $84 million. Wall Street's consensus view was for a loss of 2 cents a share in the fiscal fourth quarter on revenue of $82.3 million

Pandora's stock closed up 27 cents, or 2.57%, at $10.78 on Friday.

Shares of newly public Groupon ( GRPN) plunged this week amid a broader decline in buzzy Internet stocks such as Pandora and LinkedIn ( LNKD).

"The market is throwing out anything with high risk and uncertainty, including companies that don't have a lot of operating history," said Daniel Ernst, an analyst with Hudson Square Research.

After suffering a 15% drop on Tuesday, Groupon's stock slid another 15.5% on Wednesday ahead of the market's one-day Thanksgiving holiday. Shares of the Chicago-based daily deals site ended the week down 36% overall at $16.75.

Salesforce.com ( CRM) brings its Cloudforce customer event tour to New York's Javits Center on Wednesday.

Also, telecom component specialist Finisar ( FNSR) reports its fiscal second-quarter results after market close on Wednesday. Semiconductor maker Avago Technologies ( AVGO) posts its fourth-quarter numbers on Thursday.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/jamesjrogers.

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