HP’s shares fell under $17, marking a new eight-year low for the stock.Even though some Wall Street analysts are optimistic about Hewlett Packard’s turnaround, investors are clearly less than enthused.
They are worried about HP’s entry into Windows 8, because enterprises are not planning to quickly move to Microsoft’s new operating system. Consumers might want the tablets, but the market has become flooded with tablet choices, and will be even more so when Windows 8 tablets ship in October. That will turn Windows 8 into a price war, which isn’t great for a company that needs a big-hit product for a turnaround.
They are worried about HP’s $30 billion of gross debt. That debt has put HP between a rock and a hard place, unable to invest or acquire its way to growth, the Wall Street Journal’s Rolfe Winkler elegantly argued in an article posted yesterday. Winkler was commenting on a research note by UBS analyst Steven Milunovich who advised HP to spinoff its PC/printing division. Winkler writes:
“H-P doesn’t appear to have the balance-sheet flexibility to pull it off. Despite decent cash flow, the combined PC and printing unit likely wouldn’t be able to support much more than a third of H-P’s $30 billion of gross debt without facing a downgrade to junk status. What’s left, call it H-P’s enterprise business, still would be carrying a heavy debt load without the cash flows of printing and PCs.”
So what’s the solution? A long slow slog to trim expenses — as CEO Meg Whitman keeps warning investors.
HP had no comment on today’s stock price.