Hewlett Packard Enterprise plans cuts in jobs, executive pay to temper sales slump

Hewlett Packard Enterprise said it was putting in place a plan to cut costs, with a goal of US$1 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) reported declining sales and announced it would cut jobs and reduce executive pay, saying the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted supply chains for data-centre hardware.

The company, which has its regional headquarters in Singapore, said it was putting in place a plan to cut costs, with a goal of US$1 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2022. Measures will including simplifying its product portfolio and supply chain as well as changing customer support, marketing efforts and real estate strategies, HPE said in the statement.

"It definitely was a tough quarter by every measure and I'm disappointed in the performance, but I don't see this as an indication of our capabilities," chief executive officer Antonio Neri said in an interview. "This was clearly driven by supply chain disruptions because of coronavirus," including a shortage of chip components from China, disrupted logistics and social-distancing guidelines in some regions.

Neri said he expected HPE's sales to "recover sequentially," with the third quarter posting better results than the second and the fourth improving further. Still, he said, it's unknown just how bad the economic downturn will be.

Revenue fell 16 per cent to US$6 billion (S$8.5 billion) in the period ended April 30, HPE said on Thursday (May 21) in a statement. Analysts, on average, expected US$6.19 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, was 22 cents a share, compared with an average estimate of 28 cents.

The company withdrew its annual profit forecast last month, citing uncertainty from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced millions of people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

HPE shares dropped about 5 per cent in extended trading after closing at US$10.36 in New York. The stock has dropped 35 per cent this year.

Neri has struggled to spark sales growth at the computing and networking company, which has seen year-over-year revenue declines in all but one quarter since the company split from HP Inc in 2015. Competing with larger hardware rival Dell Technologies and dominant cloud-computing companies such as Amazon.com and Microsoft, HPE has hitched its future to edge computing, which distributes data-processing capacity closer to customers rather than at centralized data centers. More immediately, the company has sought to support sales by offering US$2 billion of financing for clients trying to preserve cash in the pandemic.

Under the company's three-year plan to reduce expenses, senior executives including Neri will take 20 per cent to 25 per cent cuts to their base salaries and the board reduced each director's cash retainer by 25 per cent from July to the end of the fiscal year. The hardware maker will consolidate offices where possible, Neri said. He expects more than half of HPE's employees won't return to the office full time, instead dropping in for meetings and collaboration when necessary.

The number of employees who may lose their jobs under the cost-cutting plan hasn't been determined, Neri said. The company will spend the next few months working out the details and evaluating how much it can save in other areas. HPE has already instituted some temporary pay cuts and has frozen employee raises and promotions, executives said on a conference call after the results were announced.

In the fiscal second quarter, revenue declined in all of HPE's business segments. Server sales dropped 20 per cent to US$2.64 billion and storage hardware fell 18 per cent. Neri said the company saw "steady" demand from large enterprises while small and mid-sized businesses struggled. HPE wasn't able to produce as much data-center hardware as clients were ordering, he said.

HPE's integration of supercomputer maker Cray is on track and should yield synergies by 2021, executives said on the call.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.