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HP plows ahead with old strategy intact

Hurding modesty

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HP's new strategy includes a lot of its old strategy, as the company plans to barrel ahead with its PC, printing and enterprise businesses intact. And with all systems firing, HP expects modest revenue growth in the coming years.

HP is looking for fiscal 2006 revenue of $91bn, said CEO Mark Hurd, during a financial analyst conference Tuesday. That total is up from revenue of $89.5bn in 2005. Things don't improve dramatically in 2007 with HP expecting year-over-year revenue growth between 4 and 6 per cent.

Hurd has been humble since taking over the CEO post at HP, and investors seem to appreciate this attitude. HP has been the best performing Dow Jones component this year, surging close to 40 per cent. HP shares were stagnant during former more flamboyant CEO Carly Fiorina's time at the company.

Despite some pleas to set its PC or printer business loose, HP has no plans to do so, Hurd said. Instead, HP will continue to focus on selling services around its hardware lines, look to improve software sales and keep its printing business going strong. You've heard this pitch before.

"I think we are actually pretty well positioned," Hurd said. He noted that companies which "shove around labor as their only differentiator" will have issues, and this seemed to be his most vocal jab at IBM to date.

Still, there's plenty of work to do.

"We have a lot of things to do to get the company as good as I think it can be in the long run," Hurd said.

HP EVP Ann Livermore boasted that the company's hardware group had improved its profitability through a lot of hard work. Apparently, pushing pink slips around is back-breaking labor. HP is in the midst of a 15,300 person "workforce reduction" that hit the hardware groups hard.

HP continues to count restructuring expenses as "one-time" items in its earnings reports even though it has brought up such charges in 11 of the last 12 quarters. This pattern prompted Bernstein & Co. analyst Toni Sacconaghi to ask HP CFO Bob Wayman about the practice given that such charges appear to be "part of HP's business model."

"The advantage of pulling out of the non-GAPP results is to let you see (the figures) with and without (the charges)," Wayman said.

We doubt, however, if this convenient excuse will go over well with Sacconaghi who, in our opinion, is the most thorough Wall Street analyst. ®

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