By Daniel Hunter

Hewlett-Packard's fourth quarter earnings fell 2.5% to $28.4 billion (£18 billion) from a year ago, better than a market consensus of a $28.76 billion decline.

The technology giant failed to impress investors ahead of its big business split next year.

The fact the decline wasn't as bad as expected the news did little to boost confidence in the struggling PC maker, with HP shares down nearly 1% in after-hours trading.

The US firm intends to separate its better-performing computer and printer business from its corporate hardware and services operations by the end of the 2015 financial year.

"There's still a lot left to do, but our efforts to date, combined with the separation we announced in October, sets the stage for accelerated progress in the 2015 financial year and beyond," said chief executive Meg Whitman in a statement.

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