February 9, 2005 9:21 AM PST
Does HP need a new course?
Despite ousting their CEO, Carly Fiorina, HP board members and executives on Wednesday said they are largely happy with the company's direction and see the company's problems as related to how the company executes its business strategy.
However, many analysts say HP remains in a bind, as it struggles to simultaneously compete against Dell's efficiency and IBM's breadth.
"The question is whether HP needs new direction or just a new driver," Ovum senior analyst Douglas Hayward said in a note Wednesday. "We think it needs a new direction. Our view is that HP has a broad portfolio whose separate parts don't work well enough together."
In a conference call with reporters, interim CEO Bob Wayman and newly installed chairman Patricia Dunn maintained that HP's breadth is its strength.
The company credited Fiorina with good execution of the Compaq merger but pointed out shortfalls such as last year's well-publicized problems in the server and storage unit that led to the firing of three top executives.
"We need to make sure we have a management team and a set of processes that don't allow that to happen again," Wayman said.
But many say HP's problems run deeper, and they urge the company to look to broader changes in its business.
Meta Group analyst Nick Gall said HP needs to either find more synergy in its businesses or consider splitting up the company. Gall likened the situation to the one IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner faced when he took the helm at IBM.
Analyst, Meta Group
"His strategic insight was to find what was synergistic about keeping IBM together," Gall said. "He found it in the services play."
Gall said it is not clear where HP might find its solution.
"They are stuck between a rock and a hard place, no question, which means they need to do something very creative, very innovative." Gall said. "So far, they have not done that."
On the business side, in particular, analysts criticized HP's current "Adaptive Enterprise"
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