On the Call: HP CEO Meg Whitman

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hewlett-Packard Co.’s lackluster guidance for its 2012 fiscal year highlights the seriousness of the issues the company faces as it tries a new course under new CEO Meg Whitman. Whitman inherits a company that expanded aggressively with acquisitions and cut costs aggressively through layoffs and budget cuts. One area hit particularly hard by cuts was research and development.

On a conference call with analysts Monday, Whitman, former CEO of eBay Inc., answered questions about her thoughts plans to expand HP.

QUESTION: Over the last five years a lot of muscle was cut out of R&D. When should we think about the return on investment?

ANSWER (Whitman): “It’s not (return on investment) in year one or two. I think the investments we make in 2012 you’ll start to see in 2014 and 2015. I wish I could tell you differently but it’s not true. And you’re right. We cut out a lot of muscle in R&D at this company and we have to invest back in it. It’s a long-term play. I will tell you, this management team, we are now building HP — we’re building it to last. We’re not building it for next month or next quarter. We are building this company to be great over the next decade. And you’ll see improvements every single year. You’ll be able to measure us on how we’re doing. But we’re making some long term bets here because we can’t continue to run this company for the short term.”