Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), a long-term holding in the Fund, is an example of how our patience, persistence, and ability to build conviction in the face of uncertainty have benefited recent performance (up 101% in 2013 and up 46% in 2014, and the largest contributor to Fund results in both years). We believe that Hewlett-Packard remains an attractive investment opportunity with strong business prospects given its large valuation discount to the overall market. As the world’s largest enterprise technology company, Hewlett-Packard has a strong, well- recognized brand and serves more than one billion end users in more than 170 countries. The company generates high, recurring free cash flow. Over our three- to five-year investment horizon, Hewlett-Packard is positioned to benefit from growth opportunities in the cloud, security, and converged network infrastructure markets. Furthermore, we believe that the competent management of the company’s operating businesses is underappreciated by the market. Current risks to the business include the possibility of expensive acquisitions, macroeconomic weakness, and competitive threats in PCs, services, and enterprise server/storage/networking. While these risks are significant, we believe that the valuation reflects an overly pessimistic outlook.
In October, the company announced plans to separate the business into two companies—Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.—and expects to complete the transaction by October 2015. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will consist of technology infrastructure, software, and services, with a focus on growth opportunities from cloud, big data, security, and mobility. HP Inc. will consist of the personal computing and printing businesses, which generate strong cash flow; the new company intends to invest in innovative technologies, such as 3-D printing. We believe that the proposed deal could build long-term shareholder value. The announcement comes four years into Hewlett-Packard’s five-year turnaround strategy. Management believes that the separation will provide greater focus, flexibility, and management alignment for each new company. Additionally, we believe the proposed capital structures and capital allocation strategy would be better tailored for each company’s respective growth profile. On December 31, Hewlett-Packard was a 4.1% position in the Fund. Continue Reading »