HPs Hurd Defers Strategy Questions

The newly named CEO of Hewlett-Packard deflects analysts' questions about whether he'll break up the company.

For Mark Hurd, some of this might have a familiar ring.

Several years ago, when NCR Corp. was having difficult financial times, many financial analysts suggested that the Dayton, Ohio, company spin off its profitable Teradata data warehousing unit, a move that Hurd, as NCRs president and later CEO, resisted. Instead, he kept the company together and brought it back to health.

During his first conference call with analysts Wednesday as president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., Hurd was asked several times about similar calls to spin off parts of HP.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Hurds selection as CEO.

Hurd, 48, deflected the questions, saying that determining whether to keep the company together was not his first priority. Instead, he said he intended to meet with HPs employees, partners and customers and "get underneath all the operating models for each of the business units."

When HPs board of directors dismissed Carly Fiorina as president, chairman and CEO in February, the concern was not about strategy but about execution, said Patricia Dunn, who took over as chairman after the ouster.

That hasnt changed, Dunn said Wednesday, and both she and Hurd said there were no conditions for his hiring regarding whether to keep the company together or spin off part of it.

"There was no litmus test," Dunn said.

Hurd agreed. "There were no preconditions," he said.

Fiorina told analysts in December that the board had considered breaking up HP three times over the past several years, and each time decided against it, instead opting to try to leverage the companys broad portfolio,

Hurds comments Wednesday indicated, at least initially, that he supported that idea. He said that the portfolio was one of the keys that has made HP "a great company," and pointing out that, like HP, NCR has a broad product lineup, only on a smaller scale.

/zimages/6/28571.gifHow will Hurds appointment affect HPs services and software business? Click here to read more.

Hurd, who will take over the HP job Friday, had been with NCR for more than two decades, beginning as a salesman in 1980. NCRs product line includes ATM machines, point-of-sale devices and data warehousing appliances.

The company has 28,500 employees and garnered almost $6 billion in revenue in 2004. By contrast, HP, the second largest computer maker in the world, has about 150,000 employees with revenues at about $80 billion.

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