It is refreshing that Meg Whitman seems to know exactly what ails the company and more importantly, she seems to know what it will take to get the problems fixed. While listening to the call, it was evident that she has placed her stamp on the company and appears to be more dedicated than her predecessor on improving HP's existing businesses. This as opposed to what had become the norm of concealing fundamentally flawed areas of the company's operation.
One thing HP has done is combining both its PC and printing divisions and confirming it will begin eliminating 27,000 jobs in a cost-saving measure of as much as $3 billion to $3.5 billion by 2014. As unsettling, if not dire, as things once looked for HP -- particularly with the rise and dominance of Apple coupled with the constant reminders of the death of the PC -- investors have to now be pleased to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The word "stability" has never been a term that anyone could have used with a straight face to describe HP, especially considering the revolving door that has been the CEO chair over the past five years. However, there is now reason to suspect that the company deserves a chance to prove its worth in any portfolio -- particularly those looking for value. Another reason to be bullish HP is the fact that the company is due to release its new line of Ultrabook machines in partnership with Intel ( INTC) and based on Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows 8 platform. These are thin, light and powerful laptops that are not that far from Apple's popular MacBook Air. HP is betting heavily on the success of this launch as a way to secure some market share from Apple and dispel notions of PC deaths. It is also hoping that Microsoft's release of Windows 8 generates an increase in sales of not only the Ultrabooks, but also its PCs and its TouchPad tablet, which it recently decided not to scrap.
While it is still too early to proclaim the resurgence of HP, it is clear it has the management structure in place to get it to where it needs to go. As a longtime apologist for the company, I feel a sense of vindication. However, the more promising aspect is to see that the company has become ambitious and is executing toward its goals. From an investment standpoint, there is no reason to not expect 20% upside in the near term. With a P/E of 8, the stock trades at a huge discount to its future potential and a price of $40 is not entirely out of the question over the next 24 to 36 months. That said, a couple more quarters like this, it may come sooner than we think.