When Hewlett-Packard Company’s (NYSE:HPQ) second quarter earnings revealed that revenue was down 1% year on year (from $27.6 billion to $27.3 billion compared to a consensus $27.4 billion for 2Q14), its stock fell 2%, but the earnings miss overshadows what could be a sign that CEO Meg Whitman’s painful restructuring is starting to bear fruit. The announcement that HP will cut another 11,000 to 16,000 jobs on top of the 34,000 layoffs that had already been planned isn’t good news, but it is in keeping with the plan to turn HP into a smaller, more profitable company.
Whitman ‘not at all disappointed’
“I’m not at all disappointed, I think it’s the natural course of what makes sense in a turnaround of this size and scale,” said Whitman, reports Spencer E. Ante for The Wall Street Journal. “We recognize that it is difficult for employees […] our employees know there are ways we can be more efficient.”
When Whitman left her post at eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) to lead Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), the tech giant suffering from a number of mistakes made by her predecessors including the $10 billion acquisition of Autonomy. Former HP CEO Leo Apotheker had also considered getting rid of the PC business, which Whitman has reemphasized during her tenure.
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While some financial analysts have criticized Whitman because Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) stock has trailed the market over the last few years, many have praised her leadership and believe that she is returning the company to long-term profitability. Despite the loss of revenue, operating margins improved from 5.8% to 6.7% year on year, and GAAP net earnings were up from $1.1 billion last year to $1.3 billion in 2Q14.
Turnaround isn’t ‘linear’ but seems to be working
“We’re gradually shaping HP into a more nimble, lower-cost, more customer- and partner-centric company that can successfully compete across a rapidly changing IT landscape,” Whitman said in statement, and the earnings report backs up that assessment. She has also warned investors in the past that the “turnaround will not be linear,” but it’s not odd that the market punished Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) for essentially delivering what has been promised.
Eventually, Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) will need to stabilize so that shareholders can gain confidence that the company won’t just continue to dwindle away, but with a labor force near 300,000, HP is still one of the world’s largest tech companies.