HPE Shares Soar 15% on Earnings Beat: 5 Key Takeaways
HPE delivered.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise   (HPE) soared almost 15% after hours on Thursday after the IT giant soundly beat fiscal first-quarter revenue and earnings estimates.

HPE reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.34 and revenue of $7.7 billion, beating consensus analyst estimates of $0.22 and $7.07 billion.

Here are five key takeaways from HPE's earnings report.

Confidence Booster

Though it's still early, HPE's report should do much to boost investor confidence in new CEO Antonio Neri. That's particularly true since the report follows a fairly disappointing October quarter report and the issuance of cautious long-term forecasts at last fall's analyst day.

Earnings Beat

April quarter earnings guidance of $0.29 to $0.33 a share is above the $0.26 a share consensus. Fiscal year 2018 (ends in October) earnings guidance of $1.35 to $1.45 a share is well above the $1.18 a share consensus. Though tax reform is playing a role here, HPE's top-line improvement is clearly a big driver as well.

Source: TheStreet
Source: TheStreet

Tax Reform Boost

Tax reform, and the access to offshore cash it provides, is also a big reason why HPE is hiking its dividend by 50% starting in the July quarter and committing to $7 billion in total capital returns (dividends plus buybacks) through the end of fiscal 2019.

Solid Sales Throughout

HPE's computer (server), storage and data center networking revenue respectively grew 11%, 24% and 27% last quarter. Server and storage growth improved sharply from the October quarter's respective negative 5% and positive 5%. A strong Intel (INTC) server CPU upgrade cycle and improving IT spending undoubtedly helped, but it looks like execution also improved. The data center networking growth is also a positive for Arista Networks (ANET) , which HPE has a re-seller deal with.

One Weak Spot

One weak spot: Non-GAAP operating profit margin fell to 7.7% from 9.5% a year ago, even though operating expenses rose by just 2% to $1.59 billion (well below revenue growth of 11%). The culprit: HPE's gross margin fell to 28.4% from 32.1%. High memory costs and aggressive pricing both appear to be factors.

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