Hewlett-Packard(s hpq), still smarting from its controversial $11 billion acquisition of Autonomy 3 years ago, is open to making small- to medium-sized acquisitions going forward.
On HP’s first quarter earnings call Thursday night, CEO Meg Whitman left the door open to new M&A. (The Autonomy buy was architected by Whitman’s predecessor, Leo Apotheker, and it was a big reason he was ousted a year after he got the top job.)
Whitman reiterated what HP told analysts in October — that the company will pay dividends and do share repurchases, but “I do think we will be now considering acquisitions.”
“As this market changes very dramatically, you can see that we may need acquisitions in security, Big Data, mobility and cloud. We will be very judicious. It will be returns-based, and I would say it would be small- to medium-sized acquisitions, so that’s where we are headed, but the capital allocation strategy that we laid out at SAM, exactly the same.”
But back to Autonomy: A year after making the buy, HP wrote off a whopping $8.8 billion of the purchase price.
The infamous deal has been in the headlines again this week — the Financial Times (registration required) conducted an extensive review that found, among other things, that HP executives were aware of certain Autonomy accounting practices before a whistle-blower exposed them publicly. That could hurt HP’s case that former Autonomy leadership withheld key information from HP about hardware sales.
In November 2012, HP requested fraud investigations by U.S. and U.K. authorities into Autonomy’s practices. Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch has denied the allegations of fraud.