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HP Inc. Tries To Navigate A Sliding PC And Printer Market

HP, Inc. CEO DionHP, Inc. CEO Dion
HP, Inc. CEO Dion WeislerHP, Inc.

Anyone looking to HP, Inc.’s latest earnings for a sign that the personal computer and printer markets are rebounding will be disappointed.

The printer and personal computer giant saw its second quarter sales shrink 11% year-over-year to $11.6 billion.

The continued drop in HP’s core business is in line with recent analyst reports that indicate that PC and printer sales won’t improve any time soon. It’s a rough storm for HP (HPQ) to navigate, but CEO Dion Weisler believes the company is doing all it can to stabilize.

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During a call with analysts on Wednesday, Weisler explained that the rough marketplace is “the new normal” and that he would “not be completely satisfied” until HP returns “to sustained growth.” To that end, Weisler reiterated HP’s restructuring plans from earlier this year that involve cutting 3,000 jobs by the end of 2016.

HP CFO Catherine Lesjak said that over 800 people left the company in the second quarter, and that roughly 1,200 workers have been laid off since the beginning of the year. That means more cuts are coming.

HP executives predicted a glimmer of hope, however. The company’s printer supplies business, which includes ink sales, will eventually stabilize by the end of 2017, they said.

But for now, that business is far from stable. Printer supplies, which account for most of HP’s total printer business, fell 16% in the second quarter to $3.1 billion.

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi asked HP to explain why it believed printer supply sales would stabilize while it continues to sell fewer printers. Weisler responded that HP is undertaking several initiatives to improve that business and that they would eventually pay off.

He pointed to a tweak in some of the company’s advertising to focus on selling printing services—like its monthly ink replacement service, for example—rather than on merely the printers themselves. That gets around the drop in printer sales and creates a reoccurring revenue stream from deals to supply ink and paper.

Weisler also explained that printing habits vary from region to region. Presumably, he meant that HP plans to target unspecified locales where printer use is higher than elsewhere.

“There is no single magic pill that changes the supplies trajectory,” said Weisler.

Weisler did voice optimism about new HP initiatives that could help revitalize the company like its newly announced 3D printers for industrial customers. He also talked about the potential of the company’s commercial graphics business that earlier this year inked a deal with The Coca-Cola Company (KO) to handle custom printing of product labels and cookie packaging for corporate clients.

Although some analysts believe those areas represent some hope for the company, Weisler would not elaborate about when those new growth areas could start to significantly lift revenue.

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When asked whether HP might make a big reorganization like data center and business software sibling Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and its recent decision to spin off its IT services group into separate company (combined with Computer Sciences Corp.), Weisler said HP is “happy with the assets we have.”

At least for the time being, HP plans to stay the course.