An item at the Good Morning Silicon Valley website today notes that HP’s PR leadership has been, um, adjusted. Its chief communications officer has been reassigned and the PR team shuffled, according to Bloomberg, in the wake of a massive stock sell-off that drove the company's shares into the low $20s. The new PR leader is Bill Wohl, who worked with Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker at SAP. Wohl joined HP in January.
HP is facing many challenges as it seeks to shift its focus away from consumer hardware and toward enterprise software and services. Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News pointed out over the weekend that HP’s PC business, which it wants to unload, supports other important segments of the company. In addition, the tech giant’s other divisions are dealing with growth issues.
All of this is important to the HP 3000 owner who's sticking with Hewlett-Packard in a transition. HP's stock is dangerously low-priced at the moment, considering how profitable the company remains. It all has to do with a price/earnings ratio, and on Aug. 19 HP's was just 5.2. That number needs to be higher. Low share price and high profits can indicate a ripe takeover target, as unthinkable as that might seem.
In a story passed along by HP 3000 open source expert Brian Edminster, a Wall Street Journal columnist outlines a one-year plan to kill HP -- from the inside. (Until Sept. 5, you can read it for free online.) The column includes a summary of the last 12 months of HP missteps that's accurate but somewhat wrong-headed, because the Al Lewis article insists that Mark Hurd was running HP well during 2010.
From former CEO Carly Fiorina's spectacular flame-out, and former chairwoman Patricia Dunn's illegal spying scandal, to Mr. Hurd's alleged sex scandal that apparently didn't involve any sex at all, this sort of dysfunction has become "the HP Way." It has been a year since HP fired Mr. Hurd. Jack Kevorkian couldn't have devised a better plan for euthanizing a company. But like the good doctor used to say: "Dying is not a crime."
HP's shares almost made it to $26 today. In the 10 days since the sell-off, it's managed a recovery of about half of the 20 percent it coughed up overnight on its no-TouchPad, PC division spinoff news. You have to go out into 2009 to find the shares as cheap as $26, and HP wasn't stumbling over a tablet or spinning out anything in March of that year. Perhaps a better spin on HP's changes can reassure investors and analysts.