Will Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) Sell Autonomy Corp?

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Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) has reportedly received offers for Autonomy Corp., the company it acquired in 2011. The company has been nothing but headaches for Hewlett-Packard after allegations of improper accounting practices were raised. But will Hewlett-Packard Company sell Autonomy? Let’s look at the evidence.

Will Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) Sell Autonomy Corp?

A conference call that took place Tuesday, the day before the Wall Street Journal article reporting that Hewlett-Packard could sell, does seem to focus quite a bit on Autonomy. Participants on that call included Tom Joyce, the company’s VP of Marketing, Strategy and Operations of Storage Networking Division, and Rob Binns, the company’s VP IR. Aaron Rakers, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus was also on the call.

On that call, they talk about the company’s acquisition of Autonomy. They mention Autonomy’s “huge base of loyal customers” and the “excitement from Autonomy” regarding their StoreAll product and how it would integrate with Autonomy’s Consolidated Archive and Autonomy IDOL. Much of the talk on that conference call regarding Autonomy focuses on the integration of Autonomy’s products with Hewlett-Packard’s products. The company is looking toward integrating itself with Autonomy—a conversation that would be unlikely if Hewlett-Packard were thinking about selling it.

Analysts at Jefferies also think the sale of Autonomy is unlikely. In a flash note issued to investors Wednesday afternoon, they said although speculation that Hewlett-Packard would sell Autonomy and / or EDS, another company it has apparently received offers for, they don’t believe it will sell. Jefferies analysts note that the article in The Wall Street Journal which reported the offers said that Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman “isn’t in selling mode.” They also note that last week they met with the company at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and “came away believing” that while HP might consider smaller divestures, a total split is “unlikely.”

Jefferies analysts said the company’s recent regulatory filing does indicate that Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) might sell off some of its assets. However they believe the company is more likely to sell its printer business rather than its core enterprise hardware businesses. They also believe the company would be “hard-pressed” to find buyers for its computer and services divisions because of their restructuring efforts, their large size, and “secular headwinds.”

They also note that selling Autonomy would be complicated because of the ongoing investigation regarding the company’s accounting practices. They say Autonomy’s revenues have fallen since it was taken over by Hewlett-Packard, although we don’t know exactly how much they have fallen.

Jefferies has set its price target on shares of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) at $10 per share and rated the stock as Underperform. The company’s stock began climbing Wednesday amidst speculation about the divestures, and it continued rising slightly in pre-market trades today.

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