Hewlett-Packard sees sales fall 6%

Hewlett-Packard logo HP is in the middle of a turnaround plan

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The world's largest maker of personal computers, Hewlett-Packard, has seen a 6% drop in first-quarter sales as demand for PCs continued to shrink.

Net sales in the three months to the end of January fell to $28.4bn (£15.3bn), while net profit fell 16% from the previous year to $1.2bn.

But the results beat forecasts and HP shares rose 6% in after-hours trading.

Chief executive Meg Whitman has said she will turn HP around but has warned it may take several years.

Earlier this week, rival PC maker Dell reported an 11% drop in revenue and a 31% fall in quarterly profit.

Both companies have struggled to grow sales as they battle the surge in popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.

'Gaining traction'

In May last year, HP revealed plans to cut 27,000 jobs by the end of 2014.

It said this would reduce costs by up to $3.5bn a year.

"While there's still a lot of work to do to generate the kind of growth we want to see, our turnaround is starting to gain traction as a result of the actions we took in 2012 to lay the foundation for HP's future," Ms Whitman said in a statement.

HP said it had returned $511m in cash to shareholders in the quarter through dividends and share buybacks.

It also said it had improved its net debt position for the fourth quarter in a row by over $1bn.

It forecast earnings per share of 80 to 82 cents in the second quarter, higher than the average Wall Street forecast of 77 cents.

"Our primary focus is to deliver on the full-year outlook, and I feel good about the rest of the year," Ms Whitman said.

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