Time to Buy this Giant on Positive News?

Mohsin is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

There has been very little good news for Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ) investors lately. In only a couple of years the company has gone from being the largest printing and PC manufacturer in the world to the sorry state it is in today. Slowly and steady the company is fight its way back into investor’s good books. The recently released data by Gartner shows that HP has maintained its mantle as the largest PC manufacturer in the world. It also released its quarterly earnings report last week and beat Street expectations by reporting an EPS of $0.81 and revenues of $28.4 billion. Investors welcomed this scarce good news from HP and rewarded it with a 6% stock appreciation.

The company has also been working on improving its cash position, which has been severely effected by the misguidance acquisitions it has made over the last couple of years. A solid quarter has increased the total cash reserves because HP was able to report Free Cash Flows of $2.06 billion. Despite these positives pieces of news the company faces severe challenges in both its PC and printing businesses; combined, these segments account for approximately 50% of HP’s total revenue. A major part of HP’s troubles stem from its inability to carve out a share from the high growth handheld industry. This inability is the result of fierce competition in this industry and a delayed response from the company.

HP has recently announced that it will make a renewed effort to enter the handheld industry. It has largely been left out of this lucrative market, which is being controlled by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has recently become a major competitor in this market with its Kindle tablets. The online retailer still relies on Google for its Android operating system. Apple is a leader and pioneer in the tablet market with its iPad, and has recently released the new and cheaper iPad mini. Google has launched the Nexus tablets to get a foothold in this very important industry, and industry which could be the future of computing.

HP Slate 7

In the recent past HP has tried to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung in the handheld industry and failed miserably. The company is not making the same mistake twice--this time it is targeting the value consumers who are currently relying on cheaper generic products. HP has just launched its newest product offering, the HP Slate 7, which  is available at an unbelievable price of $169. It has a dual-core 1.6GHz SoC, a 16×9 display, and will run the Android 4.1 operating system. The tablet comes with a pre-installed 1GB memory and 8 GB hard disk with the option of a micro SD extension. According to the company the tablet will allow users to print directly from their device on HP printers, with other printer manufacturers to be available soon.

Competition

In the 7 inch tablet space, the Slate 7 can be a real headache for the likes of the Kindle, the iPad mini, and the Nexus 7. Let’s have a comparative look at the different devices currently available to consumers.  

<table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Specifications</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>Slate 7</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>Nexus 7</strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>Kindle </strong></p> </td> <td> <p><strong>iPad mini </strong></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Price</strong></p> </td> <td> <p>$169</p> </td> <td> <p>$199</p> </td> <td> <p>$199</p> </td> <td> <p>$329</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>CPU</strong></p> </td> <td> <p>1.6-GHz ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core</p> </td> <td> <p>1.3 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9</p> </td> <td> <p>1.2 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9</p> </td> <td> <p>Apple A5 2nd Generation</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Storage </strong></p> </td> <td> <p>8GB+micro SD</p> </td> <td> <p>8GB +</p> </td> <td> <p>8GB</p> </td> <td> <p>16GB</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Memory</strong></p> </td> <td> <p>1 GB</p> </td> <td> <p>1GB</p> </td> <td> <p>512MB/1GB</p> </td> <td> <p>512 MB</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Display</strong></p> </td> <td> <p>7 inch</p> </td> <td> <p>7 inch</p> </td> <td> <p>7 inch</p> </td> <td> <p>7.9 inch</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><strong>Weight</strong></p> </td> <td> <p>0.37 kg</p> </td> <td> <p>0.34 kg</p> </td> <td> <p>0.41 kg</p> </td> <td> <p>0.31 kg</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

As the table above shows, the Slate 7 can be a real problem for competitors. It is priced 15% lower than the next cheapest product. The tablet competes on all other levels with its foes, and I believe it will get a positive response from the market. HP already has a very strong brand presence, and its experience with making quality products at a low cost can be a game changer in this space. If the Slate 7 is able to gain traction, HP will be in a position to launch slight pricier models, and that will significantly improve its valuations. The tablet can create serious problems from competitors with pricier products such as Apple, Amazon and Google.


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