Hewlett-Packard Enterprise continued to re-engineer itself on Wednesday by approving a $2 billion stock buyback for its new fiscal year. Overall, the board approved authorized stock repurchases of up to $5 billion over time.
The news came out of the company’s annual analyst day meeting in San Francisco.
HPE (HPE) is sitting on a nearly $7 billion in cash and faced pressure from activist investors on that front. Late last month, RBC Capital’s analyst Amit Daryani wrote that the big choice for HPE at the meeting would be deciding between share buybacks and more acquisitions, according to Barron’s.
At the meeting, company execs said it would return roughly $2.5 billion to shareholders in the fiscal year beginning in November. That total would include $2 billion in stock buybacks and about $500 million in dividends. It approved a 15% increase the regular cash dividend to $0.075 per share, up from $0.065 per share.
The company is one half of the old Hewlett-Packard Co., spun out two years ago to sell high-end servers, storage, and services to large companies. The other half, now Hewlett-Packard Inc., (HPQ) focuses on printers, laptops, and PCs.
HPE has struggled to find its footing. Just before the split in 2015, the company reversed plans to challenge Amazon Web Services in public cloud.
Now the game plan is to focus on higher-level IT services and hardware. Over the past few months, CEO Meg Whitman has mused publicly that the company is evaluating whether HPE should stay in the commodity “cloud” server business which sells many units, but at a low profit.
Given the buyback decision, it’s unclear how much acquisition work HPE will do going forward. The company was active on this front this year. HPE purchased IT consultancy Cloud Technology Partners last month. Other acquisitions included the $650 million purchase of data center hardware company Simplivity in January and the $1.09 billion buy of Nimble Storage in March. Terms of two other acquisitions—of cloud analytics specialist Cloud Cruiser in January and security analytics player Niara the following month—were not disclosed.