As much as any damage caused by LÃ©o Apothekerâ€™s inability to successfully communicate or execute his decisions during his 11-month tenure atop Hewlett-Packard, new chief executive Meg Whitman is concerned about what has happened to H.P.’s competitive environment.
â€œThe pace of change has acceleratedâ€� around H.P., Ms. Whitman said in an interview Thursday evening. â€œWe have to anticipate, and anticipate and anticipate the trends.â€� These include the shift from PCs to tablets like the Apple iPad and the rise of low-cost corporate computing through Internet-based rentals of computing power like Amazon Web Services, she said.
â€œWe have to look at our whole go-to-market approach,â€� she said, referring to the way products are marketed. Whatever she chooses to do, she indicated it will be led by hardware sales and not Mr. Apothekerâ€™s software-led philosophy.
During a call with Wall Street analysts, Ms. Whitman talked about the need for H.P. to temporarily slow its investments and share repurchases, to rebuild the companyâ€™s damaged balance sheet.
She may need the money for more than that however. In a later conversation with The New York Times, the newly reminted chief executive identified weaknesses in the sales of its usually lucrative printer cartridges. â€œPrinting is a 50 percent consumer business,â€� she said. â€œThe consumer is pulling back, mostly in Europe, but to be honest here too.â€�
While economic weakness in the United States isnâ€™t news, H.P. identified weakness in Europe in the analysts’ call. While this will affect revenue in the quarter, according to the companyâ€™s chief financial officer, the company expects to deliver its projected earnings per share this quarter. The outlook from there is uncertain, indicating H.P. will deliver the earnings through cuts, more than a revival of demand elsewhere.
Where will those come from? â€œIâ€™ve got 43 days until the end of the quarter,â€� she said. â€œIâ€™ve got to do some homework.â€�