Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hewlett Packard - The Adventure Continues for HP and CEO Meg Whitman

For Hewlett Packard and CEO Meg Whitman, there is never a dull moment.    Board Chairman Ray Lane was essentially given a vote of no confidence by shareholders and has relinquished his chair position.  . John Hammergren, who has been on the board since 2005, and former Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson, a director since 2006, will resign, as well.  The three could perhaps offer themselves as a package deal for Dancing with the Stars.

All three have   been on the board for much of Hewlett Packard’s precipitous decline in stock price.  There for Autonomy.  There for the  tablet debacle.  You really can’t  really  blame the board for these, in some respects.  External smartest guys in the room and others in the Hewlett Packard organization did make the recommendations. 

After hitting a 52-week low of $11.25, that stock has gone up to $20.66.  This is still substantially below the just under $45 they were trading at a couple of years ago.  On a percentage basis, the Dow has increased about 20% and Dell has decreased about 10% over the same period.

So, what is HP going to do?  Meg Whitman is still saying recovery will be a four-year process.  Hewlett Packard has been investing in security as part of their strategy.  Tablets were revived from coaster status to being part of the strategic mix. Smart phones may be part of the mix in 2014.   Last week, as part of project Moonshot, Hewlett Packard introduced a line-up of super servers.  These are designed to appeal to the biggest social-media, cloud-computing, and e-commerce sites.

Autonomy is going to continue to be part of HP.  Even after the massive writedown.  "We remain committed to Autonomy; we remain committed to the brand, to Cambridge, to the U.K.," she said at a  recent news conference.   "It is an almost magical technology. ... It plays into a big shift in the market, the area of Big Data, which HP should be in."  Bets are being taken as to who will ultimately be thrown under the bus for the analysis of this deal and from which side of the pond.
The laptop/PC business won’t drive a recovery.  Printer sales and ink revenue won’t increase if laptop/PC sales tank.  According to IDC, laptop/PC sales dropped over 11% in Q1 versus the same period in 2012. For HP, the drop was 24%.  Windows 8 sales have not been astronomical, as well. 

The takeoff in tablets has sucked the growth out of PC and laptop sales.  Tablets will   out-ship desktop PCs this year, according to IDC.  They are also forecasting that by the end of 2013, desktop PC shipments will dip 4.3 percent.  Tablet shipments will rise to 190 million units, an annual growth rate of 48.7 percent, according to the firm.

Whitman was named CEO in September 2011, replacing Leo Apotheker.  “The pressure is on Meg,” stated Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein Research.  A housecleaning of the board “bought her a year.” according to an April article in the New York Times.  More bold moves are needed by Hewlett Packard and Whitman.  Going private (unlike what Dell is trying to do) isn’t an option.

Whitman and Hewlett Packard need to make even more aggressive  moves.   


“Hewlett Packard and Meg Whitman – The First Year.  Turbulence and Turmoil in the Valley” at

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