HP shares a cheap buy ahead of projected gains

Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co are poised to rise by 20 percent over the next year, helped by an expected pickup in information-technology spending, according to an article in the April 7 edition of Barron’s.

HP’s stock has risen 46 percent in the past year, but with a valuation of 8.7 times projected earnings over the next four quarters, it still trades at a 44 percent discount to the market, the financial newspaper said. By way of comparison, Xerox trades at close to 10 times earnings, it added.

While spending on information technology has been weak in recent years, buyers worldwide are on track to spend 3.2 percent more this year, research group Gartner said last week.

Barron’s pointed to a report that said if HP can gain an extra point of market share in the computer servers market, it would be worth around $400 million in revenue.

Currently, HP shares, which closed at $32.64 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, go for the same price they did 15 years ago, as the Internet and smartphones have made things like pricey personal computers and printers less of a necessity.

But the company has undergone a massive restructuring since former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman took the helm in 2011. HP, which until 2010 was the world’s largest tech company by revenue, has announced 34,000 job cuts since May 2012, and through carefully managing inventory and keeping capital spending in check, it has generated more than $15 billion in free cash in its past two fiscal years, Barron’s said.

A 20 percent gain over the next year would put HP shares at close to $40, with a Xerox-like valuation of about 10 times earnings, based on next year’s forecast, Barron’s said.

“That seems like a low hurdle,” it added.

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HP shares a cheap buy ahead of projected gains