Meg Whitman says HP is 'too complex and too slow,' underinvested in PC division

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It's been just about six months since Meg Whitman took over as CEO of HP, and it sounds like she's ready to put her stamp on the company. Speaking to investors and analysts after HP's Q1 2012 results today, Whitman said that HP had been run in "silos" that had grown "too complex and too slow," and that it had underinvested in its PC division. "We've been late to market too often," she said. "We have to lead again." Whitman pointed to the new HP Envy 14 Spectre ultrabook as an example of the PC division innovating and added, "We need more of that."

The statements come on the heels of a down quarter for HP, in which it managed to beat analyst estimates but still saw earnings go down some 38 percent. Whitman called it "frankly a tough quarter" but said that HP decided to react to the economy and a shortage of hard drives by focusing on profitability over market share — a theme echoed by HP CFO Cathy Lesjak several times during the call. Whitman also stressed the need for HP to "dramatically change the mix" of its business as revenue from HP's printer and imaging group fell for the first time in recent history — she said that while IPG had long been HP's "go-to place for money," it was time to recognize the weak consumer demand for printers and "capitalize on the analog to digital trend" in photos.

Whitman also pledged to simplify HP's product lines and streamline its business processes, saying that HP's "enormous" number of products led to unnecessary complexity in everything from sales to support. "We've got to optimize our supply chains, we've got to reduce SKUs... so we can can invest in innovation." She added that HP's biggest customers want to deal with "one HP," and that the company needed to be better integrated. "We have got to save to invest," she said. "We have got to save to grow."

This is a "once-in-a-generation chance to define the future of technology and position HP as a leader for decades to come," said Whitman. "I have no doubt that we'll turn HP around."

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