HP (HPQ) Under Investigation for Bribery

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is in "advanced discussions" with U.S. regulators in an attempt to settle investigations into allegations of bribery, according to AllThingsD. Shares of the computer company fell 0.5% to $28.05 on the news.

HP disclosed the discussions in its annual 10-K filing with the SEC. The company is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC. The two regulators are alleging that HP employees paid millions of dollars to secure an IT contract with a Russian government agency. The deal took place between 2001 and 2006, and had HP install new IT networks for the agency.

German authorities already indicted four people in the deal on charges of bribery, breach of trust and tax evasion. In the U.S., the deal is under investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

In the 10-K filing HP said it is cooperating with all agencies looking into the deal. Mexican and Polish are also looking into bribery allegations in their respective countries.

TheStreet Ratings team rates Hewlett-Packard as a "hold" with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate HEWLETT-PACKARD CO (HPQ) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including poor profit margins, weak operating cash flow and generally higher debt management risk."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Powered by its strong earnings growth of 120.91% and other important driving factors, this stock has surged by 100.49% over the past year, outperforming the rise in the S&P 500 Index during the same period. Regarding the stock's future course, our hold rating indicates that we do not recommend additional investment in this stock despite its gains in the past year.
  • HEWLETT-PACKARD CO reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past year. We feel that this trend should continue. This trend suggests that the performance of the business is improving. During the past fiscal year, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO turned its bottom line around by earning $2.62 versus -$6.45 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.66 versus $2.62).
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Computers & Peripherals industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO has underperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has exceeded that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for HEWLETT-PACKARD CO is currently lower than what is desirable, coming in at 25.74%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 4.85% significantly trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $2,816.00 million or 30.62% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.