HP’s 2013 outlook falls flat, shares near nine-year low

SAN FRANCISCO, Wed Oct 3, 2012 – Hewlett-Packard offered a 2013 earnings outlook on Thursday that underscored slow progress on CEO Meg Whitman’s turnaround plan and decelerating technology spending worldwide, sending its shares to a nine-year low.

Shares in the largest U.S. technology company by revenue plummeted as much as 7 percent after it forecast earnings, excluding certain items, of between $3.40 to $3.60 a share in fiscal 2013.

Whitman on Wednesday blamed unprecedented executive turnover in past years for dragging out the turnaround of the sprawling Silicon Valley computing giant.

Whitman, who became HP’s third CEO in as many years after taking the helm from an abruptly dismissed Leo Apotheker, is trying to revitalize the former industry icon via layoffs, cost cuts, and expansion into areas with longer-term potential such as providing enterprise computing services.

Apotheker’s 11-month tenure was marked by an acceleration of departures from various divisions, such as networking chief Marius Haas, as he brought in former coworkers from SAP AG.

“My belief is that the single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packard has been changes in CEOs and executive leadership, which has caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices and frankly some significant executional miscues,” Whitman told investors at an annual conference in San Francisco.