Mergers and Acquisitions

H-P Pursues Spin-Off of PC Operations

In earnings announcement, it confirms reports that it is in talks about acquiring UK-based Autonomy Corp., reportedly for about $10b.

By Roy Harris

Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's largest personal-computer maker, wants to get out of the business.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based giant used its Thursday earnings announcement to confirm reports that it is in talks about spinning off the PC operations, and might acquire UK-based software company Autonomy Corp.

According to reports from Bloomberg News earlier in the day, the purchase of Autonomy, an enterprise software concern, would be for about $10 billion.

Specifically, H-P’s late-afternoon announcement said that it was planning to announce that its board had authorized the exploration of “strategic alternatives for its Personal Systems Group,” and that the company would “consider a broad range of options that may include, among others, a full or partial separation of PSG from H-P through a spin-off or other transaction.”

The company said it also plans to announce that it will discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones, although H-P would “continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward.” For some, the TouchPad discontinuation was almost as big a shock.

Lower Q4 Projections

In discussing third fiscal quarter earnings, H-P said diluted earnings per share were 93 cents, and non-GAAP diluted EPS $1.10, compared with year-ago GAAP diluted EPS of 75 cents and non-GAAP diluted EPS of $1.08. It said that its non-GAAP diluted EPS estimates excluded after-tax costs, of about 17 cents in the latest quarter, related primarily to the amortization of purchased intangible assets. That compared with 33 cents a share in the year-ago third quarter.

Revenue in the quarter rose to $31.2 billion from $30.7 billion a year ago, it said.

H-P estimated that in its fourth quarter revenue will rise to a range of about $32.1 billion to $32.5 billion, and that GAAP-diluted EPS would be in the range of 44 to 55 cents, with non-GAAP diluted EPS in the range of $1.12 to $1.16. Non-GAAP diluted EPS guidance excludes after-tax costs of approximately 61 to 68 cents, related primarily to restructuring and shutdown costs associated with webOS devices, the amortization and impairment of purchased intangibles, restructuring charges and acquisition-related charges. 

H-P said full-fiscal-year revenue would be about $127.2 billion to $127.6 billion, a reduction from its previous estimate of $129 billion to $130 billion. Fiscal-year GAAP diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $3.59 to $3.70, down from its previous estimate of at least $4.27, while fiscal-year non-GAAP diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $4.82 to $4.86, down from its previous estimate of at least $5. FY11 non-GAAP diluted EPS estimates exclude after-tax costs of approximately $1.16 to 1.23 per share, it said, related primarily to restructuring and shutdown costs associated with webOS devices, the amortization and impairment of purchased intangibles, restructuring charges and acquisition-related charges.

H-P scheduled its conference call for 5 p.m. ET to discuss these announcements. The call is accessible via an audio webcast at www.hp.com/investor/2011q3webcast.