HP CEO Weisler: Our 'Disruptive' 3-D Print Technology Is Gaining Ground


While HP Inc. delivered strong results in both its PC and print segments during the most recent quarter, the company's nascent 3-D printing business is also showing much momentum, CEO Dion Weisler said Tuesday.

HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3-D printers are used for printing production-quality manufacturing parts, and use technology that HP honed in the inkjet market to control prints down to a finely detailed, precise level (known as a "voxel" level).

[Related: HP Taps New Finance Chief As Cathie Lesjak Moves To Interim COO Role]

During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Weisler pointed to a number of positive signs in his company's 3-D printing business.

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"3D print has had yet another impressive quarter. What we're seeing is really strong uptick in manufacturing printing, rather than prototyping. And that's obviously our focus," Weisler said. "We've got some of the largest manufacturers in the world now beginning to put in double digit units into their digital factories. So we're seeing a lot of repeat orders."

One customer, longtime 3D printing services firm Forecast 3D, is "expanding and upgrading its entire fleet" with HP's latest Multi Jet Fusion model, the 4210, Weisler said during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday. Forecast 3D is "expecting to produce millions of parts on Multi Jet Fusion in the coming year," he said.

Overall, "we're encouraged by that business," he said -- though adding that "it is, as I've always said, a business for the long term."

Weisler also mentioned plans to launch four new Jet Fusion 3-D printer models--which will offer color prints and will be focused on prototyping--in the second half of this year. HP is launching a separate channel program for the new Jet Fusion 3-D printers that doesn't require partners to provide servicing.

"We announced the technology, but they're not yet delivering, so that will give obviously a shot in the arm of the revenue going for quarters to come. And we also announced our move into [3D printers] around metals technology," Weisler said during the conference call with reporters.

"This is a long game for us--it's a future part of our strategy that plays out five to 10 years," he said. "But I am absolutely convinced that it is very disruptive technology to tap into the $12 trillion manufacturing market."

Weisler made the comments Tuesday in connection with HP reporting results from its second quarter of fiscal 2018, ended April 30. The quarter saw revenue grow 13 percent year-over-year, to $14 billion, up from $12.39 billion a year earlier.

The quarter saw double-digit sales growth in both the personal systems and printer segments for HP, and marked the sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth for the personal systems division. Weisler said it's an important sign that personal systems "grew double digits yet again, off the back of double digits this time last year."

Q2 also marked the fifth consecutive quarter where HP's personal systems and printing businesses grew together.

During the conference call with analysts, Weisler praised the efforts of channel partners in helping to deliver the strong Q2 results. "For us the channel is a great competitive advantage," Weisler said. "We are deeply committed to listening to our partners, understanding their customers' needs and delivering innovation that drives growth."

A high point for the quarter in print was the company's commercial hardware business, which had been in revenue decline prior to the acquisition of Samsung's printer business. The addition of Samsung print, and in particular Samsung's A3 lineup, helped drive 27-percent revenue growth in commercial hardware during Q2 from the year before, HP reported.

Notably, commercial print hardware sales were also up 11 percent over the previous quarter sequentially, which had also included Samsung print, HP Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said during the conference call with reporters.

HP's supplies business grew 8 percent year-over-year during the second fiscal quarter. Overall, the print business rose 11 percent to $5.24 billion in revenue, compared to $4.73 billion during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, in personal systems, revenue climbed 14.5 percent to $8.76 billion during Q2--up from $7.65 billion a year earlier.

The growth was driven by 15-percent growth in notebooks and 16-percent growth in desktop PC sales, as well as an increase of 9 percent in workstation revenue.

Non-GAAP net earnings during the quarter rose to $798 million, or 48 cents per diluted share, up from $685 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, during the same period a year earlier.

Also on Tuesday, HP promoted an 11-year veteran of the company, Steve Fieler, to serve as its new chief financial officer. Current CFO Cathie Lesjak will become chief operating officer on an interim basis before a planned retirement in 2019.