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HP CEO Says Intel, Microsoft Now Competitors

HP CEO Says Intel, Microsoft Now Competitors
By Jennifer LeClaire

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The competition from Intel is that it is partnering very closely with EMC. Clearly Microsoft has stepped solidly into HP's space. CEO Meg Whitman is just being realistic and saying the environment is changing. The vertically integrated model seems to be on the upswing and HP has to adapt to the changes.
 



When your partners become your competitors, it changes the game. But is HP really blaming Microsoft and Intel for flat revenue?

At its 2013 Securities Analyst Meeting, the company’s leadership team provided an update on its progress executing against its turnaround plan and future strategy. HP president and CEO Meg Whitman described the past year as a “fix and rebuild” period, and insisted the multi-year turnaround is on track.

As evidence, the company has met or exceeded quarterly non-GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook since the turnaround plan began. HP said in August that it expects free cash flow to approach $8 billion by the end of fiscal year 2013.

What’s more, Whitman’s team has reduced operating company net debt by almost $8 billion over the past 12 months and recommitted to smarter innovation with research and development spending expected to exceed $3 billion in fiscal 2013.

“While there is a lot more work to be done, I am confident about the progress we are making,” said Whitman. “We’re producing tangible results, strengthening our balance sheet and delivering innovative products across all our key segments. We are implementing the changes needed to support our multi-year turnaround journey, reaffirm HP’s leadership position, and create enduring value for customers as well as for our shareholders.”

Blaming Microsoft

While the company faces a challenging macro environment, shifting market forces and a rapidly changing competitive landscape, Whitman emphasized that the company has the right leadership team in place to advance its strategy, drive innovation across the business and improve its go-to-market execution. Whitman reiterated that she expects HP’s revenues to grow in line with gross domestic product over the long term.

Nevertheless, with pockets of growth helping to offset continuing challenges in the macro environment and weak public sector spending, HP expects the year-over-year revenue decline in fiscal 2014 will moderate from fiscal 2013. Specifically, HP anticipates operating profit dollars to be flat to up, year-over-year in fiscal 2014, due to its continued focus on cost savings and operational efficiency.

But both Whitman and Dion Weisler, executive vice president of printing and personal systems at HP, said something else that is turning heads. Weisler noted that in the past, if you played by the Wintel playbook you could pretty much predict your results.

“You just needed to run a little faster than the other guy," he said. "Everything was pretty predictable . . . [but] we're in a new world now with multiple operating systems, new architectures, new silicon, new graphics, new subsystems."

And on the Wintel front, Whitman had a mouthful for Wintel makers Microsoft Windows and Intel. She said HP’s traditional highly-profitable markets face significant disruption.

“In personal systems,” she said. “Wintel-based devices are being aggressively displaced by ARM-based PCs and mobile devices running competing operating systems . . . current, long-term HP partners, like Intel and Microsoft, are increasingly becoming outright competitors.”

HP Must Adapt

So does Whitman’s statement have merit? We asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, for his take. He told us Whitman is seeing the drift as Microsoft pushes out more of its own services and even hardware like the Surface tablet.

“I am not quite seeing the competition from Intel that she’s talking about, except that Intel is partnering very closely with EMC,” he said. “Clearly Microsoft has stepped solidly in their space. I think she’s just being realistic and saying the environment is changing. The vertically integrated model seems to be on the upswing and HP has to adapt to the changes.”
 

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