Free of the drama of former CEO Hurd's resignation and successful in grabbing 3Par away from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), it is back to business for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and its new CEO, Leo Apotheker. Although the valuation on HP shares seems very undemanding, and there is widespread analyst support for the stock, time will tell if investors buy the story and are willing to buy the stock.


IN PICTURES: What Is Your Risk Tolerance?


The Quarter That Was
HP ended its fiscal year with a decent quarter. Revenue rose 8% and slightly exceeded the average analyst estimate. Within the top line, PCs were weak as expected (personal systems revenue was up 4%), while printing (up 8%), servers (up 25%) and services (up 0.4%) were better than generally expected. Software revenue increased 1%, but is far and away the smallest of the company's five major business units.

Profits also came in better than analyst expectations. GAAP net earnings rose 5%, while adjusted earnings were up about 11% and earnings per share exceeded even the high end of the analyst range. Within that, gross margin rose over a full point from last year, while non-GAAP operating margin improved a bit.

The Road Ahead
Much has already been made of HP's new CEO committing to increase the company's R&D spending, and its relatively low investments relative to IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), though it is in line with Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) level of spending. HP certainly has the scale and breadth to leverage more R&D investments, as well as the capital. Investors should remember, though, that R&D does not pay off overnight.

All in all, HP still has several solid product platforms. The company will soon be launching tablets (using ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH) chips) and that should give the company an opportunity to mitigate the risk that tablets present to the notebook business, though Dell is hoping to do so as well (along with Cisco (the Cius), Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) (PlayBook) and seemingly every other tech hardware company). Elsewhere, acquisitions like 3Par should help expand the enterprise business, and more could be on the way.

The Bottom Line
Whether investors look at EV/EBITDA, PE or LACFY, Hewlett-Packard shares seem cheap. Oddly enough, though, that is not due to a lack of analyst support. Of the 37 analysts that Thomson lists for HP, 28 have recommendations of "strong buy" or "buy." That suggests, then, that the positive story is out there, but that institutional investors just do not care all that much right now. (For related reading, take a look at Analyst Forecasts Spell Disaster For Some Stocks.)

Although Hewlett-Packard is a middling performer in terms of how much free cash flow it generates from its revenue base, the company has been rather consistent in terms of performance. That makes it rather surprising that the Street is pricing these shares as though free cash flow is only going to grow about 3% a year forever more. Certainly the company will likely not repeat the low-teens sales growth of the past decade or the 20%+ free cash flow growth, but even just a couple of extra points of free cash flow growth over the next 10 years would suggest the shares are undervalued by more than 10%.

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Starbucks: Profiting One Cup at a Time (SBUX)

    Starbucks is everywhere. But is it a worthwhile business? Ask the shareholders who've made it one of the world's most successful companies.
  2. Stock Analysis

    How Medtronic Makes Money (MDT)

    Here's the story of an American medical device firm that covers almost every segment in medicine and recently moved to Ireland to pay less in taxes.
  3. Investing News

    Latest Labor Numbers: Good News for the Market?

    Some economic numbers are indicating that the labor market is outperforming the stock market. Should investors be bullish?
  4. Investing News

    Stocks with Big Dividend Yields: 'It's a Trap!'

    Should you seek high yielding-dividend stocks in the current investment environment?
  5. Investing News

    Should You Be Betting with Buffett Right Now?

    Following Warren Buffett's stock picks has historically been a good strategy. Is considering his biggest holdings in 2016 a good idea?
  6. Products and Investments

    Cash vs. Stocks: How to Decide Which is Best

    Is it better to keep your money in cash or is a down market a good time to buy stocks at a lower cost?
  7. Investing News

    Who Does Cheap Oil Benefit? See This Stock (DG)

    Cheap oil won't benefit most companies, but this retailer might buck that trend.
  8. Investing

    How to Ballast a Portfolio with Bonds

    If January and early February performance is any guide, there’s a new normal in financial markets today: Heightened volatility.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Performance Review: Emerging Markets Equities in 2015

    Find out why emerging markets struggled in 2015 and why a half-decade long trend of poor returns is proving optimistic growth investors wrong.
  10. Investing News

    Today's Sell-off: Are We in a Margin Liquidation?

    If we're in market liquidation, is it good news or bad news? That party depends on your timeframe.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do dividends affect retained earnings?

    When a company issues a cash dividend to its shareholders, the retained earnings listed on the balance sheet are reduced ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center