Whitman shuffles executive deck ahead of HP earnings
Ahead of today's earnings report, some big personnel news at Hewlett-Packard: CEO Meg Whitman has moved Enterprise Group chief Dave Donatelli and marketing chief Marty Homlish out of those roles and into different positions within the company.
Whitman has now replaced the heads of every major HP business unit (and many corporate functions) since she arrived in late 2011. CNBC learned about the moves from a source with knowledge of the reassignments.
That news comes on the same day as a crucial earnings report. Wall Street wants to see 87 cents non-GAAP EPS from $27.3 billion in revenue in fiscal Q3. That would be the top-end of the EPS range, with revenue basically flat sequentially. HP stock is up more than 70 percent since the beginning of the year.
Whitman has replaced executives responsible for about 75 percent of HP revenue since the last earnings report. In June, she reassigned Todd Bradley, who had run both the printing and PC businesses for HP; together those units deliver half of revenue. The Enterprise Group delivers another fourth.
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Back in December, Whitman put a new EVP, Mike Nefkens, atop the Enterprise Services group. She named Geoge Kadifa the new head of the software group about six months before that.
Whitman has characterized fiscal 2013 as a rebuilding year, with growth to come in 2014. She is now in Q4 of that rebuilding year, reporting Q3.
What do the departures say about the state of the turnaround? For answers, investors are sure to give plenty of attention to the performance of the Enterprise Group in the quarter, and to whether Whitman will back off of her growth promises at all. Other enterprise tech companies have been sounding sober notes this season; IBM revenues came in light, and Cisco announced weak guidance and a round of job cuts.
A decline in revenue will be a major storyline in the earnings report, ISI Group tech analyst Brian Marshall said. He also said the ultimate solution at the struggling tech giant is to break up the company.
Wall Street expects a revenue drop in the "high single digits," Marshall said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "We're a little bit above that."
The slow-death of the personal computer has been a problem for HP. "The PC market is declining double digits year-over-year," Marshall explained. "PCs and printing represent half of Hewlett-Packard currently on the top-line. I think this is a problem going forward."
And it's up to Whitman to solve it. The former eBay boss is two years into her turnaround efforts as chief executive of HP—a job that's been a revolving door in recent years. The stock has risen nearly 10 percent since she took the helm.
"She's called it a fix-and-rebuild year," Marshall recalled. "I think she's fixing some things. But I don't think they're rebuilding anything."
While HP has said it won't consider a breakup of the company, Marshall said it's what needs to be done. "Look at what IBM's done over the past 10 years. They got out of PCs. They got out of printing. And they're really focused."
—By CNBC's Jon Fortt and Matthew J. Belvedere.