PALO ALTO, Calif. (
weak guidance, announced with its
on Tuesday, continues to hammer the company's shares.
Noting weakness in consumer PCs and services, HP said that it expects second-quarter revenue between $31.4 billion and $31.6 billion, compared to analysts' forecast of $32.59 billion. Excluding items, HP expects earnings between $1.19 a share and $1.21 a share; Wall Street has forecast $1.25 a share.
The guidance spooked investors Tuesday in after-hours trading, and HP shares were still falling Wednesday morning almost 11% to $43.08.
Analysts, however, see a buying opportunity and future upside for investors.
"Shares are attractive at current levels," said Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Company, in a note. "It is our view that HP has been the most aggressive at expanding its enterprise infrastructure portfolio and offers the most room for improvement at an attractive valuation."
"While the company has encountered some choppiness in consumer and services, we are buyers on downside to shares of HP given its strategic position in the data center, global brand and seemingly attractive valuation," said Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, in a note released on Wednesday. "We also expect a long-term lift to corporate gross margin as HP enters new, more profitable markets."
The No. 1 PC maker grew its gross margin by 1.5 percentage points year-over-year to 24.4% during the first quarter, which
CEO Léo Apotheker
cited as a positive during a conference call with journalists Tuesday. "
The gross margin expansion allows us to invest for future growth," he said.
Apotheker, who took over from Mark Hurd last year, said that he will provide more details on the company's long-term product roadmap during an event in San Francisco on March 14.
Last week, in an interview with the
Wall Street Journal
, Apotheker explained that he wants HP to be more customer-oriented, and also promised a major focus on cloud computing and connectivity technologies.
Software is also likely to play a major part in HP's long-term product strategy. Apotheker, the former CEO of German software giant
, has already discussed his desire to boost HP's software business.
"Software has been a credible part of HP's strategy to date -- it helps us differentiate our products," he told
on the conference call. "Make no mistake, we will also grow our standalone software business -- we will expose our IP as IP. At our March 14th event, will have ample opportunity to talk about that," he added.
HP's software business grew 5% year-over-year during the first quarter, although this growth was dwarfed by the company's enterprise storage, servers and networking division, which saw its revenues increase by 22%.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Kaushik Roy urged investors to note these trends, adding that there is no reason to run away from HP's stock. "HP is gaining market share in higher margin businesses such as networking and servers," he said in a note released Wednesday. "We believe, going forward, HP will be able to improve its storage and software businesses which carry higher margins compared to other HP segments (such as PCs)."
Apotheker also said Tuesday that the enterprise refresh of storage and networking gear is still "mid-innings."
--Written by James Rogers in New York.
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