PALO ALTO, Calif. (
) -- Investors are looking for
new CEO Léo Apotheker
to reap the benefits of an improved spending climate when the tech giant reports its fourth-quarter results after market close on Monday.
(At 4 p.m. ET,
will be live-blogging HP's numbers and conference call.)
have raised expectations for the No. 1 PC maker, which ousted its former CEO Mark Hurd during the summer. In particular, the hardware refresh identified by Dell is expected to spell good news for HP.
HP CEO Leo Apotheker
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for revenue of $32.75 billion and earnings of $1.27 a share, compared to $30.8 billion and earnings of $1.14 a share in the prior year's quarter, and at the high end of HP's own guidance.
"The demand environment in the commercial segments remains strong and spending in U.S. public sector is not as bad as many had feared," explained Kaushik Roy, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan, in a note released on Monday. "It is well known that there is weakness in consumer spending at this time, but the corporate refresh cycle is still active, in our opinion."
as a key growth driver, along with virtualization and
Exchange, which all play to HP's strength in the commercial market.
Some 75% of HP's revenue comes from the commercial sector, according to Wedbush's Roy, with consumers accounting for the remainder. The analyst, who upgraded HP to outperform and raised the company's price target from $46 to $50, also says that the tech giant is increasing the pressure on rivals such as Dell and
"We believe HP is gaining market share in networking and servers," he said, adding that HP's recent acquisition of
is helping stem recent share losses in storage.
HP's shares, however, have been weighed down by CEO issues, dipping almost 9% in the last six months, thanks largely to the departure of Mark Hurd following an expenses scandal. Hurd, something of a Wall Street darling, was credited with turning HP's fortunes around; his ouster weighed heavily on the company's stock.
Hurd's replacement, former
CEO Leo Apotheker,
, particularly after rumors that HP was looking internally for its new CEO.
Apotheker, however, is a
with significant international expertise, something which could prove key to the company's long-term growth. Overseas sales accounted for $16.5 billion of HP's total revenue of $30.7 billion during the third quarter, with EMEA sales rising 9% to $10.9 billion.
"Uncertainty about the new strategy and style of the new CEO is causing some nervousness with investors but we believe the existing management team is operationally very strong," added Wedbush's Roy. "We believe that the overhang on the stock due to the new CEO should gradually diminish in the next couple of quarters."
Apotheker has also had to contend with
from Larry Ellison in recent weeks, with the
CEO alleging that his HP counterpart oversaw a scheme to steal Oracle's software during his previous role at SAP. HP has dismissed the claim as harassment, and Oracle has been unsuccessful in its attempts to subpoena Apotheker to appear in court.
The new HP CEO, along with the company's CFO Cathie Lesjak, is nonetheless expected to appear on a conference call to discuss the tech bellwether's fourth-quarter results.
--Written by James Rogers in New York.
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