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HP sees sunny outlook, focus on WebOS for 2011

The company, still without a permanent CEO, says it expects good things on the financial front next year. Executive says "PalmPad" WebOS tablet on track for early next year.

HP/Screenshot by Erica Ogg

Hewlett-Packard has yet to name a permanent CEO, but it told financial analysts today that the next fiscal year will be a good one for the computing company.

At HP's annual meeting with analysts, interim CEO Cathie Lesjak said the company is expecting revenue in fiscal year 2011 between $131.5 billion and $133.5 billion, and between $5.05 and $5.15 in earnings per share.

That represents growth of between 5 percent and 7 percent over the expected revenue for fiscal year 2010. HP's fiscal year begins in November.

In early August, HP said it anticipates earning between $125.3 billion and $125.5 billion in revenue this year, and earnings per share in the range of $3.62 to $3.64 per share, including after-tax costs of 87 cents per share.

HP is using the meeting to talk about what it expects to deliver next year in all of its businesses. Lesjak took several opportunities to talk about the future of the WebOS operating system it acquired from Palm and said it represents the kind of vision HP has for the next year in one of the fastest growing areas of technology, connected mobile devices. "Just think about (its technology). HP now has a large new market opportunity," she said.

Separately, former Palm CEO and current HP Senior Vice President Jon Rubinstein said next year will be all about WebOS, according to an interview he did with The Financial Times today. HP has "abandoned" an Android smartphone project and there won't be an Android tablet either, he said. The focus on mobile will be purely WebOS.

The clear focus on WebOS for HP was underscored during Personal Systems Group Executive Vice President Todd Bradley's appearance during the meeting. By 2013, 45 percent of his group's addressable market will be devices and services that are not traditional PCs, he said. That means software and mobile devices, which is why HP wanted WebOS from Palm.

Bradley said his group would "aggressively attack" the smartphone market, and said it plans to pump more money into the Palm business. Since July 1, they've doubled the number of WebOS apps available in its app store, he said.

Bradley has said publicly a few times now that there's a WebOS tablet on the way early next year. Today he reiterated that, but also referred to it as the "PalmPad," which would seem to confirm another rumor.

And there's clearly more in store where that came from. Bradley said that WebOS is built "to grow beyond smartphones" and that HP wants to use it in almost every device it makes.

"We believe we can scale WebOS seamlessly across our entire portfolio," he told the gathering of analysts.

Somewhat cryptically, he added that WebOS "is extendable beyond the HP ecosystem." Just yesterday he told a tech conference that HP does not plan to license WebOS to other companies.

We've asked HP for clarification and will update the post if we get it.

This post was updated at 4:33 p.m. PDT with Bradley's comments at the analyst meeting.