Services division boosts HP's Q4 results

Profit up 18 percent; Services grows, other divisions decline

Hewlett-Packard reported an 18 percent jump in profit for its fiscal fourth quarter, thanks in large part to the strength of its services business.

HP's profit for the quarter ended October 31 was US$2.4 billion, or $0.99 per share, up from $2.1 billion, or $0.84 per share, in the same quarter last year, the company announced in the US yesterday. Revenue fell 8 percent to $30.8 billion.

HP had already announced preliminary results two weeks ago, when it disclosed plans to buy 3Com for US$2.7 billion. Monday's results provided a closer look at how each business division performed.

Revenue was down in almost all segments, including Enterprise Storage and Servers, where it slipped 17 percent to $4.2 billion, and the Personal Systems Group, where it fell 12 percent to $9.9 billion. Revenue in its printing and imaging group also shrank, by 15 percent to $6.5 billion, HP said.

But as with the previous quarter, services was a bright spot. Revenue from that group increased 8 percent from a year earlier to $8.9 billion. HP's operating profit from services increased to 16.2 percent of revenue, up from 11.4 percent a year earlier, and contributed $1.4 billion to HP's bottom line.

“HP’s solid performance in Services drove record profit, and the accelerated pace in signings creates strong momentum going into 2010,” Mark Hurd, HP's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

HP's results contrast with those of Dell, which last week reported lower-than-expected figures for roughly the same period. Dell's profit slumped 54 percent from a year earlier, to $337 million, while revenue fell 15 percent to $12.9 billion.

Dell is more dependent than is HP on business spending, which has picked up more slowly than consumer spending after the recession. It also lacks a services business on the scale of HP's and IBM's, which provide those companies with better profit margins.

However, Dell said it had been encouraged by an uptick in business spending at the end of last quarter and was optimistic about the rest of the year.

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