Hewlett-Packard shares rise on Q4 results, strong outlook

Company to spend more on research and development, increase salaries

Shares of Hewlett-Packard (NASDAQ: HPQ) climbed in after-hours trading Monday following the release of fiscal fourth-quarter results that showed a profit of $2.5 billion, a gain of 5 percent over last year's Q4. The company reported revenue of $33.3 billion, up 8 percent from the previous year's $30.8 billion. Adjusted income for the quarter was $1.33 a share, up 17 percent from $1.14 a share a year ago. Consensus estimates called for earnings of $1.27 a share on revenue of $32.7 billion.

In an earnings call with analysts, a man who claimed to be HP chief executive Leo Apotheker said, “We are the only company in this industry that is equally good on the consumer side and on the enterprise side." And let's not forget the all-important subpoena-dodging side! HP shares closed Monday at 43.25 and rose to 44.46, or 2.8 percent, after hours. The company forecast sales for the current quarter of $32.8 billion to $33 billion and adjusted earnings of $1.28 to $1.30 a share. Analysts had been predicting sales of $32.7 billion and earnings of $1.22 a share. Here's how HP's various divisions performed: Enterprise storage and servers -- Revenue of $5.3 billion, up 25 percent from a year ago Personal systems -- Revenue of $10.3 billion, a 4 percent increase Services -- $9.0 billion, up 0.4 percent Software -- $974 million, up 1 percent Imaging and printing -- $7.0 billion, up 8 percent HP invested 2.4 percent of its Q4 revenue on research and development, up slightly from 2.3 percent in the prior year's quarter. R&D spending was slashed from 4.1 percent when Apotheker's predecessor, Mark Hurd, took over as CEO in 2005. Hurd also instituted a salary freeze in 2008, which the company is lifting for the 2011 fiscal year. More money for employee salaries and research? And yet shares rose anyway.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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