After providing strong returns in 2013 and 2014, Hewlett-Packard was the Fund’s largest detractor from results during 2015. Hewlett-Packard recently split into two entities—Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) and HP Inc. (NYSE:HPQ)—which should result in greater focus and flexibility for each company to achieve its strategic goals. To assess secular challenges and evaluate the risks and opportunities of each stand-alone business, we met numerous times with their management teams and competitors and spoke with industry consultants. As a result, we added to the Fund’s positions in both companies. On December 31, Hewlett Packard Enterprise was a 2.5% position and HP Inc. was a 1.8% position in the Fund.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of the largest vendors in information technology (IT), consists of the enterprise technology infrastructure, software, and services segments of the old Hewlett-Packard. We acknowledge the company faces headwinds: the shift to the cloud has negatively impacted all on-premise IT vendors, continued public cloud adoption will likely erode the company’s market share, and competition is keen. Despite these risks, we believe Hewlett Packard Enterprise is an attractive investment due to its strong market positions across its portfolio (e.g., top provider of servers, number two position in IT services), scale advantages, and opportunities to improve its margin structure. Meg Whitman—the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise—has overseen sound acquisitions (e.g., 3Par), new product launches, and cost reduction programs during her tenures at Hewlett-Packard and eBay. Management is actively cutting costs and retooling its product and service offerings to improve the company’s competitiveness. Margins in the Enterprise Services segment should expand as the company optimizes its contract mix and delivery models. The company trades at a compelling valuation (eight times forward estimated earnings), which is among the lowest in the S&P 500. Continue Reading »