Big rise in PC sales behind surprise HP revenue increase

By Graeme Burton
21 Aug 2014 View Comments
HP's Meg Whitman

Systems giant Hewlett-Packard posted a surprise increase in revenues in its latest quarterly results, which it attributed to an equally surprising increase in PC sales.

The company posted revenues of $27.6bn in its third quarter results to the end of July, up by one per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. The company's operating margins, however, slipped quite substantially in the process.

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The results from the Personal Systems group, however, stood out. The unit responsible for PCs and laptops posted an increase in revenues of 12 per cent, with revenues on the commercial side up 14 per cent and consumer sales up eight per cent.

In terms of unit shipments, HP said that desktop PC sales were up by nine per cent and laptops by 18 per cent.

Printing, though, which has long been the bulwark of HP's profitability, was down four per cent year-on-year, with both hardware and "supplies" revenue - sales of expensive ink cartridges - each down by five per cent. The company has responded to criticisms of ink cartridge prices by setting up subscription schemes to cut the cost for customers who do regular printing.

Interestingly, perhaps, the company sought to improve its cash flow by cutting its accounts receivables - the length of time it takes to be paid by customers - by one day to 46 days, while stretching its accounts payables by eight days to 65 days.

CEO Meg Whitman claimed that the results demonstrated that progress was being made on her turnaround plan for HP. "Overall, I'm very pleased with the progress we've made," said Whitman. "When I look at the way the business is performing, the pipeline of innovation and the daily feedback that I receive from our customers and partners, my confidence in the turnaround grows stronger."

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