Wed, Jan 02, 2013 - Page 15 News List

HP appraising value of assets, businesses: filing

Bloomberg

Hewlett-Packard Co (HP) said it is evaluating the disposition of businesses that do not meet goals more than a year after CEO Meg Whitman said she does not plan to spin off the personal computer division.

“We also continue to evaluate the potential disposition of assets and businesses that may no longer help us meet our objectives,” Hewlett-Packard said in a Dec. 27 10-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

That language was not included in the document a year earlier.

CEO since September 2011, Whitman is working to turn around Palo Alto, California-based HP after five straight quarters of declining sales and years of botched deals, management tumult and strategic missteps.

An US$8.8 billion writedown of the acquired software company Autonomy Corp in November renewed calls on Wall Street for HP to realize shareholder value by shedding certain businesses, such as PCs and printers.

RISK FACTORS

HP, the world’s largest maker of PCs and printers, discussed the evaluation in the “Risk Factors” section of its regulatory filing, saying that any disposal would have possible drawbacks.

“When we decide to sell assets or a business, we may encounter difficulty in finding buyers or alternative exit strategies on acceptable terms in a timely manner, which could delay the achievement of our strategic objectives,” HP said.

The company also said in the filing that the US Department of Justice had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy. HP accused the software company of misrepresenting its performance before being bought in 2011.

DISCLOSURE

The disclosure that HP is evaluating disposing of assets or businesses came 14 months after Whitman said she would keep the company’s PC business in house. Her predecessor, Leo Apotheker, had explored a spinoff of the unit, which had US$35.7 billion in sales in the last fiscal year, or 29 percent of the total.

Whitman instead unified the PC and printer groups’ management under executive vice president Todd Bradley last year. The printer unit accounted for US$24.5 billion in fiscal 2012 revenue, or 20 percent of total sales.

Michael Thacker, a spokesman for HP, declined to comment beyond the filing.

The company’s filing said it may “dispose of a business at a price or on terms that are less desirable than we had anticipated.”

In addition, “the impact of the divestiture on our revenue growth may be larger than projected,” the filing said.

Shares of HP gained 4.2 percent to US$14.25 at Monday’s close in New York. The shares declined 45 percent last year.

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