Investors have enjoyed a bit of a rally during Thanksgiving week, and the holiday mood continued on Wednesday. Futures contracts on major market benchmarks didn’t add much during the premarket session to advances from Tuesday, but they showed the market’s willingness to hold onto the ground they gained. Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) futures had risen 14 points to 11,768 as of 8:30 a.m. ET.
A pair of well-known stocks in the technology sector reported their quarterly financial results late Tuesday, and with both stocks down about 30% from their best levels of the past year, investors were anxious to see how they would perform. Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) wasn’t able to satisfy its shareholders with its report, but HP (NYSE: HPQ) managed to do a somewhat better job, even as both companies face challenges in the current macroeconomic environment.
Autodesk sees software demand softness
Shares of Autodesk fell 9% in premarket trading on Wednesday morning. The maker of computer-aided design software for industries like architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and entertainment posted solid results in the fiscal third quarter that ended Oct. 31, but it acknowledged that its clients seem to be slowing down their software spending.
Autodesk’s quarterly numbers showed continued growth. Revenue of $1.28 billion was up 14% year over year, led by gains in subscription-based sales. Adjusted earnings of $1.70 per share were up even more sharply, picking up 27% from year-ago levels.
Autodesk has moved aggressively to embrace cloud computing, having recently announced the Fusion, Forma, and Flow platforms to bring together collaboration, workflow management, and data tools on the cloud. Subscription renewal rates have stayed strong, showing that the strategy seems to be working.
Yet investors focused more on reductions in guidance on billings and free cash flow, as Autodesk said that its customers have sought out annual contracts rather than wanting to lock in longer-term multiyear deals. Moreover, although full-year fiscal 2023 projections for 14% sales growth, a 16% rise in billings, and adjusted earnings of $6.56 to $6.62 per share aren’t bad, they show that even strong software companies have to face inevitable slowdowns in growth during times of macroeconomic pressure.
HP holds up
Meanwhile, shares of HP rose 3% in premarket trading Wednesday morning. The maker of printing and computing equipment reported declines in sales and earnings in its fiscal fourth quarter, but investors seemed pleased with the company’s efforts to get itself moving in the right direction over the long run.
HP’s numbers for the period ending Oct. 31 showed the pressure that the hardware and equipment side of the tech industry has seen lately. Revenue of $14.8 billion was down 11% year over year, and adjusted earnings of $0.85 per share fell 10% from the same period last year. The printing segment suffered a 7% drop in revenue, with a rise in commercial unit sales failing to offset weakness from consumer-purchased units. In addition, sales of printing supplies fell 10%.
Personal systems sales fared worse, falling 13% overall on a 25% plunge in consumer sales. Notebook sales in particular stood out with a poor performance, down 26% on a unit basis compared to 12 months ago.
Investors seemed hopeful, though, that HP could finally be close to hitting bottom as the new fiscal year begins. The company is calling for adjusted earnings in fiscal 2023 of between $3.20 and $3.60 per share, and while that would be down from the $4.08 per share in earnings from the just-ended fiscal 2022, it nevertheless values HP stock at a forward multiple of less than 10. That might just be the value that shareholders want to see.
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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Autodesk and HP. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.