Hewlett-Packard Earnings Rise, Beat Expectations

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) Wednesday posted a slight rise in quarterly profit, fueled by revenue gains across all of its businesses, and its shares rose more than 2 percent in after-hours trade.

The company, which last week ousted its controversial Chief Executive Carly Fiorina (search), said the operating profit margin at its long-struggling personal computer business rose to 2.1 percent as sales rose 12 percent from a year ago.

"We have yet another positive surprise coming from computing," said Mark Stahlman, an analyst with Caris & Co, referring to better-than-expected results from Intel Corp. (INTC), Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL), IBM (IBM), Dell Inc. (DELL) and, now, HP.

"Looks like 2005 is going to be a good year," he said.

HP's net income for the first fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31 rose to $943 million, or 32 cents a share, from $936 million, or 30 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose to $21.5 billion from $19.5 billion.

Excluding items, HP posted a profit of 37 cents a share, compared with 35 cents a share a year ago, on a comparable basis.

On that basis, the company was expected on average to earn 36 cents a share, within a range of 32 cents to 39 cents, on revenue of $20.96 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

Still, HP's interim chief executive, Chief Financial Officer Bob Wayman, said the company still had much to do.

"While we continue to make progress in growing our top line, there is work to be done to improve our profitability," Wayman said in a statement.

"As the board conducts a CEO search, our management team is focused on driving improved execution to serve our customers, strengthen our competitiveness and improve shareholder value."

For the current second quarter, HP said it expects earnings per share before items between 35 cents and 37 cents, on revenue of $21.2 billion to $21.6 billion.

Analysts on average now expect HP to post a profit of 36 cents a share on revenue of $21.1 billion in the quarter.

Last week, when the board ousted Fiorina, HP said results would be in line with Wall Street expectations after adjusting for the previously announced settlement with Intergraph Corp .

Sales in HP's PC business rose 11 percent to $6.9 billion as unit shipments increased 12 percent, reflecting stable average selling prices.

The company's crown jewel, the imaging and printing group, saw revenue rise 3 percent to $6.1 billion as supplies revenue — sales of ink cartridges — climbed 8 percent, fueled by growth in color printing. Operating profit dipped by $35 million from a year earlier to $932 million.

Revenue at HP's storage and servers business, which like the PC business has been plagued by inconsistency, climbed 9 percent to $4.0 billion, but operating profit fell to $71 million from $153 million a year earlier.

Shares of HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., rose to $21.60 on the Inet electronic brokerage after the company issued its results. In regular trade, HP stock fell 6 cents to close at $21.06 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).