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Hewlett-Packard reported its fourth fiscal quarter earnings that beat expectations on Wall Street.

The earnings are being closely watched as a bellwether for the tech economy, as HP is a big player in both the enterprise and consumer technologies. But it’s also under scrutiny as HP CEO Meg Whitman has promised a financial turnaround that seems to be taking longer and longer. Right now, HP is a test of investor patience.

HP reported revenue of $29.1 billion for the three months that ended Oct. 31, down 3 percent (and just 1 percent after currency adjustments) from $30 billion a year ago. Non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting practices) earnings per share were $1.01, down 13 percent from a year ago.

In after-hours trading, HP stock was up 7 percent to $27 a share. Before the report, HP shares closed down 23 cents at $25.09 a share.

While it isn’t as cool as Apple and doesn’t make games like Microsoft, HP is a critical piece of the electronics industry, as it straddles both the consumer and enterprise markets across a number of product lines. It has made scores of acquisitions in the past 15 years.

For the fiscal year, HP reported non-GAAP earnings per share of $3.56, compared with $4.05 a year ago. Revenues for the year were $112.3 billion, down from $120.4 billion a year ago.

Before the earnings report, analysts estimated HP would report non-GAAP net income of $1 share on revenues of $27.86 billion. Analysts had previously expected full-year earnings of $3.64 a share on revenues of $107.48 billion. So the year was light on earnings but stronger on revenue.

Whitman said in  statement, “Through improved execution, strong cost management, and with the support of our customers and partners, HP ended fiscal 2013 on a high note. Our Q4 results demonstrate that HP’s turnaround remains on track heading into fiscal 2014. While we still have much more work to do, our business units and their core assets are delivering on HP’s strategy to help customers thrive by providing solutions for the New Style of IT.”

A year ago, HP had a horrible outlook, as the PC industry was weak and HP had just come clean on its awful $10 billion acquisition of Autonomy, which turned out so bad it cost the prior CEO his job.

Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian White had a hold rating on the stock. In a report, he said that the company will probably “highlight a soft IT spending environment.”

HP expects first fiscal quarter earnings, which close at the end of January, to be 82 cents to 86 cents a share on a non-GAAP basis.

HP said that Personal Systems revenue was down 2 percent compared to a year ago with 3 percent operating margin. Commercial revenue was up 4 percent, but consumer revenue was down 10 percent. Total unit sales of PCs were up 2 percent, with desktops down 5 percent and notebooks up 3 percent.

Printing revenue was down 1 percent year over year with a 17.7 percent operating margin. Total hardware units were up 6 percent with commercial hardware units up 9 percent and Consumer hardware units up 4 percent. Printer supplies revenue, HP’s cash cow, was down 4 percent.

Enterprise Group revenue was up 2 percent year over year with a 14.5 percent operating margin. Networking revenue was up 3 percent, Industry Standard Servers revenue was up 10 percent, Business Critical Systems revenue was down 17 percent, Storage revenue was up 1 percent, and Technology Services revenue was down 6 percent.

Enterprise Services revenue declined 9 percent year over year with a 4.4 percent operating margin. Application and Business Services revenue was down 10 percent, and Infrastructure Technology Outsourcing revenue declined 9 percent.

Software revenue was down 9 percent year over year with a 30.8 percent operating margin.

HP Financial Services revenue was down 6 percent year over year with a 5 percent decrease in net portfolio assets and a 3 percent decrease in financing volume.


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