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Hewlett-Packard’s rivals will be keeping a close watch on the number two US computer maker as it reports its second-quarter results on Tuesday.
Investors expect evidence that HP has stolen a march on Dell, its chief rival in the personal computer market, which last week warned it would miss earnings forecasts for the third time in four quarters. Dell reports quarterly results on Thursday.
Martin Reynolds, analyst at Gartner, said: “If HP continues to grow at a rate it grew in Q1, it could overtake Dell as the largest PC maker in the world by next year.” However, he cautioned that this was unlikely.
HP may also pass International Business Machines to become the world’s biggest technology group by sales. HP’s sales last year of $87bn ranked second in the sector, just behind IBM’s $91bn.
The company has regained momentum after weak sales, low morale and a loss of focus led it to languish under Carly Fiorina, his predecessor.
Shares in HP have risen more than 60 per cent since Mark Hurd, HP’s chief executive, took charge a little over a year ago and launched a $1.9bn cost- cutting drive.
Now, the focus has turned from cost-cutting to growth.
HP has remained cool on suggestions that it should consider selling its low-margin PC business in order to boost profitability.
Todd Bradley, the head of HP’s personal computer group, said in spite of a slower overall PC market, “our numbers are very strong”.
Along with healthy growth in notebook sales last quarter, “our media centre PC is clearly showing growth,” he said. “We are also working on desktops tailored to work environments. I don’t think we’re giving up on the desktop yet.”
Ann Livermore, head of HP’s enterprise computing division, said the PC business gave her business unit greater power in its relationships with suppliers.
“The lowest end servers are basically PCs that stand on their side,” she said. “The components are the same and the distribution channels are the same.”
HP has not indicated an interest in big acquisitions to boost growth. Mr Hurd told a panel in February that the company remained focused on smaller “digestible” deals.
But some bankers believe Mr Hurd may be interested in using some of HP’s $13bn cash pile to make a multi- billion dollar acquisition this year – perhaps in software or mobility.