Hewlett-Packard reported a 14 percent increase in third-quarter profit, beating analysts' estimates, as international demand and new notebook designs spurred sales.

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Hewlett-Packard reported a 14 percent increase in third-quarter profit, beating analysts’ estimates, as international demand and new notebook designs spurred sales.

The shares gained 2.8 percent after HP said net income rose to $2.03 billion, or 80 cents a share. Excluding acquisition costs, profit was 86 cents, exceeding the 84 cents anticipated by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The company’s profit forecast for the fourth quarter also topped estimates.

Computer sales rose 15 percent after Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd introduced sleeker designs and metallic finishes to sell more notebooks. HP, which took the lead in the PC market from Dell two years ago, also benefited from a 24 percent revenue gain in Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“It’s the broadness of their portfolio and international mix that allows them to do better than Dell,” says Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research in San Francisco.

Third-quarter sales increased 10 percent to $28 billion, compared with the average estimate of $27.4 billion by analysts.

“You’ve got a lot of places around the planet where the only access to the digital content out there is through a notebook and a wireless card,” Hurd said on a conference call with reporters. “We have a significant opportunity.”

For the fourth quarter ending in October, sales will be $30.2 billion to $30.3 billion, and profit, excluding some costs, will be $1.01 to $1.03 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had anticipated $30.3 billion in revenue and $1 a share in profit.

Hurd has beaten analysts’ profit estimates in every quarter since he took over in April 2005. The company recaptured the PC-market lead in 2006 after trimming prices to compete with Dell, and selling notebooks through about 80,000 retailers in the U.S.

“It’s heartening to see an industry and a major player reporting good results,” said Michael Cuggino, portfolio manager at Pacific Heights Asset Management LLC in San Francisco, which owns about 370,000 shares of Hewlett-Packard.

Hurd is expanding HP’s other businesses, spending more than $6 billion over the past three years to boost the software unit. Software sales rose 29 percent to $781 million in the third quarter.

Revenue from services, such as consulting and outsourcing, jumped 14 percent to $4.75 billion. HP is buying Electronic Data Systems for $13.2 billion to step up competition with IBM in computer services.

The deal, which Hurd said will close this month, is HP’s biggest since the 2002 buyout of Compaq Computer for $18.9 billion.

“Generally all of the groups are firing,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, a market-research firm in Wayland, Mass., said. “The portfolio balances out very nicely.”