Updated from 6:21 p.m. EDT
During an analyst meeting Tuesday,
CEO CarlyFiorina reiterated expectations the company can grow earnings 20% or more for fiscal 2004 and the next couple of years. She also took a few handy swipes at rivals
Fiorina said H-P will create $7 billion in internal growth by the end of fiscal 2004. "In essence, we created an organic growth company the sizeof
," she bragged in a presentation at H-P's headquarters in San Jose, Calif., that was simultaneously broadcast over the Internet.
H-P shares rose 34 cents, or 1.6%, to $22 Tuesday; after hours, the stock was recently down 2 cents at $21.98.
Despite the more bullish tone from executives at IBM and Dell over the past few months, Fiorina also repeated her
earlier prediction that corporate information technology spending will rise only about 2% this year.
"Customers want to simplify and consolidate their IT infrastructure before growing their spend
ing," she said. "But we still have an opportunity to take share."
Although H-P is No. 1 or 2 in most of the markets it serves, Fiorina suggested the company has ample opportunity to garner a greater percentage ofits customers' IT spending. In fiscal 2003, existing customers spent $710 billion on products and services H-P offers, she said; during that year, H-P hadrevenue of $73.06 billion.
The company also has "huge opportunities" in new markets like digital media; Fiorina estimated that is about a $400 billion market.
Getting H-P's Dander Up
During a question-and-answer session with analysts, Fiorina had the unenviable job of trying to explain why H-P's price-to-earnings multiple has continued tolag that of its peers.
H-P has garnered a reputation for what Wall Street calls "inconsistent execution" -- in other words, missing consensus sales and earnings expectations -- but the company has made its numbers three quarters in a row.
So, "what's keeping H-P's shares stuck at their current level?" one analyst asked.
Based on Tuesday's close, the stock has risen a mere 3.7% from its closing price on June 9, 2003, compared wth a 12.2% rise for Dell and 10.6% increase for IBM.
"If people will look at the facts, they certainly argue for a higher multiple" for H-P, answered a peeved-sounding Fiorina. "Marketssometimes miss the facts."
She said H-P's broad product portfolio, which includes consumer-oriented computers, handheld gadgets and printers as well as industrial-strength servers,will help it go after markets that IBM can't. "IBM can't go after health care or entertainment opportunities like H-P, because they're a back-officecompany," she said.
Unlike IBM, Fiorina noted that H-P has chosen not to focus on what she said are relatively "slow-growing" areas like middleware, databases and mainframes.
An IBM representative could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, she said Dell's business model, which she described as "distributing the products of others," offers limited opportunities for earnings leverage. "They're driving on unit growth, but their average unit price is falling," she said. "You've seen that in the past couple of quarters."
Dell has consistently posted strong earnings growth, said Dell spokesman Mike Maher. In fiscal year 2004, Dell's EPS was up 26% on 17% revenue growth, and analysts expect EPS to rise another 23% in fiscal 2005, according to ThomsonFirst Call.
In the most recent quarter, Dell's average revenue per PC stood at $1570, down $50 from year-ago levels. But Dell normally sees unit prices decline as technology advances drive down costs, Maher added. "One of the greater measures to look at in terms of company health is market share and profitability. I don't think you could question either of those with Dell," he said.
During the same meeting, Vyomesh Joshi, who heads H-P's printer division, directly addressed investor worries that Dell's push into the business will crimp profits at H-P. He pointed out that H-P has shipped 312 million printers to date, while Dell's installed base is only 2.8 million. While H-P is shipping about 1 million printers a week, Dell is shipping only about 60,000.
The vast majority of printing profits come fromsupplies like ink and toner, meaning H-P's large installed base continues to give it a major advantage.
However, Dell spokesperson Maher countered that while Dell doesn'tyet break out the financials of its year-old printer division, the business already boasts higher operating margins than H-P's PC business.
Joshi added that Dell seems to be taking share from its partner
, not from H-P. "They have limited functionality; they have no
intellectual property. They're a distribution company," he said of Dell.
He also noted that Dell doesn't offer color laser jets or photo printer; by comparison, H-P has made much of the profit potential in color printers asconsumers increasingly opt to print out digital photos.
Maher said Dell is continuing to fill out its product line.