HP Discover 2012: HP still a big-hitter, claims Whitman

News 4 Dec, 2012

Cash flow is still good, but firm needs to commercialise ideas faster, asserts HP chief.

HP CEO Meg Whitman remains bullish about the firm’s progress since she took over the helm a year ago, despite shares plunging to a nine-year low in the fourth quarter.

“Innovation is alive and well [at HP]", proclaimed Whitman, but she did admit that more needs to be done to capitalise on the ideas created by the firm's R&D department.

“It’s not that we don’t have enough innovation at HP. We need to work harder on commercialising that innovation and getting those ideas to market [faster]. And that’s what we are focusing on in the next 12 months," Whitman told the 9,000 attendees at Discover 2012.

We remain 100 per cent committed to Autonomy's industry leading technologies and its employees.

Whitman also moved to soothe the minds of customers and investors during her keynote, giving a positive spin on its recent financial results, when HP was forced to write-off $8 billion relating to its acquisition of Autonomy.

“We are on a very solid financial foundation. It’s worth remembering that HP is a $120 billion revenue [generating] company. We are the 10th largest company in America. In Q4 we generated $4.1 billion in cash flow from operations,” Whitman said.

“Everyone in this audience knows that cash flow is the lifeblood of business. Our cash flow is more than some great companies like Coca Cola, Disney, FedEx, McDonalds and Visa. And we reduced our net debt by $5.6b in the last year.”

Despite the numbers quoted by the CEO, HP finds itself in a transitional period. Revenues from the personal computing, printing and enterprise (servers, storage and networking) sectors were all down year-on-year in the last quarter.

The firm has so far failed to make its presence felt in key growth areas such as the mobile market having prematurely pulled the plug on its webOS-based Pre smartphones. The firm has also just re-entered the tablet market with Windows 8 devices aimed specifically at enterprise users.

Interestingly, it took nearly 20 minutes into her keynote before Whitman touched on the much-talked about Autonomy situation. Due to the ongoing investigation and pending legal action, little information was given, but the CEO did reassure customers that the technology is here to stay.

“We have the essential collection of tools in our performance software suite...We remain 100 per cent committed to Autonomy's industry leading technologies and its employees. We are really excited about the innovations that are in the pipeline,” Whitman added.

This is clear as the Autonomy-based products have been among the most talked about during the event so far.