HP Q4 2012 Earnings Results: Autonomy Progress or Write-off?
What’s next for HP earnings? Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) will answer that question Nov. 20, when Q4 2012 results surface. CEO Meg Whitman will face numerous inquiries about HP’s hardware, software and IT services businesses. But perhaps HP Autonomy will offer the clearest clues about the company’s long-term strategy. If Autonomy shows signs of life, partners and Wall Street should applaud. But if HP writes down/writes off the value of the 2011 Autonomy buyout, it will signal the latest challenge in HP’s long road to recovery. Here’s why.
Updated 10:20 a.m. ET, Nov. 20: Here’s the official news: HP takes $8.8 billion write-down on Autonomy and alleges Autonomy used misleading accounting ahead of M&A deal. Ouch.
Even before HP unveils earnings on Nov. 20, expectations are low. CEO Meg Whitman issued a reset back in October, prompting Wall Street to reduce its long-term expectations for the beleaguered IT company. Among the big questions facing HP and Whitman this week:
- PCs and Servers: Amid continued weakness in the PC market, can HP show any signs of progress — especially amid Windows 8’s arrival and growing competition from Lenovo?
- IT Services: The EDS deal was supposed to transform HP into IBM Global Services’ strongest rival. Instead, HP wrote down the purchase of EDS in mid-2012. Can Whitman show signs of progress?
- Autonomy: After the EDS write-down, analysts in Sept. 2012 openly wondered if an Autonomy write-down or write-off was coming next. So far it hasn’t happened. But will that change Nov. 20?
Whitman succeeded ousted CEO Leo Apotheker in 2011, and has since worked to stabilize the company. But she has also blamed former CEOs and a lack of consistency for the HP’s challenges. Starting Nov. 20, The VAR Guy suspects, Whitman will begin to shift her tone from (A) what went wrong at HP to (B) where she’s starting to see signs of progress.
As part of the discussion, Autonomy better be mentioned. Otherwise, partners and customers will wonder — even more loudly — if the Autonomy buyout will ever live up to its early expectations.
The bottom line: Whitman has already dramatically lowered near-term expectations for HP. She can’t possibly lower them any more… can she?