Meg Whitman will tell investors after-hours on Tuesday how Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE - Get Report) has fared against headwinds that have ruffled rival enterprise IT groups such as EMC (EMC) , IBM (IBM - Get Report) , Brocade (BRCD) , Juniper (JNPR - Get Report) and even some units of Cisco (CSCO - Get Report) .
Wall Street expects the company to generate 42 cents per share in its second fiscal quarter, on $12.4 billion in revenues.
Investors want an indication that Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which split with consumer-focused PC and printer maker HP (HPQ - Get Report) last November, is making progress on a turnaround. IT enterprise earnings reports so far have been soft. While that indicates a challenging market, it also lowers the bar.
"If I look at Cisco, EMC and Brocade, the same trend appears," said Morningstar analyst Ilya Kundozerov. Cisco, which had a strong quarter overall, had declines in switching and routing. EMC, which is merging with Dell and may face organizational distractions, saw declines, as did Brocade and Juniper. "It was a weak quarter for enterprise infrastructure," he said.
The company's enterprise group, which makes servers, is the company's largest unit, producing $27.9 billion in fiscal year 2015. Enterprise services generated $19.8 billion in 2015, while the company collected $3.5 billion in software sales and another $3.2 billion from leasing, financing and other services.
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich noted that disappointments from its peers "do not create a positive backdrop," in a report.
"IT spending looks weak, but management has been confident, possibly due to improved execution and the turmoil at Dell/EMC," wrote Milunovich, who calls for the company to meet consensus results. Milunovich prefers Cisco and its 3.8% dividend yield to HP Enterprise's yield of 1.4%. "HPE's hardware is becoming a commodity and will likely be hurt as public cloud grows," he suggested.
While Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha acknowledges the darkened outlook for IT hardware companies, he suggested that Hewlett Packard Enterprise would benefit from its Industry Standard Servers product line and wireless networking company Aruba, which it acquired for $3 billion last year. Garcha calls for earnings of 43 cents per share, a penny above forecasts.
When Hewlett Packard Enterprise topped first fiscal quarter estimates by a penny in March, the stock closed up more than 13%.
In morning trading on Tuesday, the company's shares were up 0.6% to $16.17. For the year, the stock is up about 6%.
With the gloomy IT outlook, Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities suggested investors could be easily impressed.
"Given our sense that sentiment and expectations are low (many anticipating a miss) amid concern over enterprise IT spending, particularly server growth, ... we believe an in-line quarter and guide would be viewed positively," Um wrote. In the second half of the fiscal year, the analyst expects improved net income, reduced charges from the split and other factors to drive free cash flow.
Following its split, Hewlett Packard Enterprise should be leaner and meaner. That may be easier to achieve, considering some of the the soft competition so far this earnings season.
Investors can see how well the other half of the breakup is proceeding on Thursday, when HP reports.