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HP Board Should've Looked Harder for CEO: Analyst

Friday, 23 Sep 2011 | 11:42 AM ET
Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO
Source: AP
Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO

Hewlett-Packard should've taken more time looking for a chief executive to replace Leo Apotheker, Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Tony Sacconaghi told CNBC Friday.

Sacconaghi said he was "disappointed" HP's board "did not undertake an extensive search of internal and external candidates" before choosing former eBayCEO Meg Whitman. "They owed it to shareholders to do that," he said. "There are a lot of great CEOs with experience and operational expertise that would find the role of CEO at a prestigious company like HP attractive."

When Apotheker was hired 11 months ago the board had only searched for seven weeks, he said, adding, they should've taken more time then as well, Sacconaghi said.

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Whitman was good at eBay, the analyst said, but eBay was a smaller, monoline company. On his checklist of what the best CEO candidate should have, Sacconaghi said Whitman is lacking in several categories: limited to no technology background, no enterprise experience, and lack of experience at a company as complex as HP.

"I think for a company that is this big and this venerable, you want to give your shareholders a profile that checks as many boxes as possible and will increase the odds of success in this position going forward," he added.

And yet, Sacconaghi has an "outperform" rating on HP's stock because of its valuation. The stock is trading at five times earnings, he said.

"There is no technology stock with a market capabove $5 billion in the last 21 years that has traded at this low a valuation level. It is implying there will be mid-to-high-single-digit deterioration forever in HP cash flow," he said. "We simply don’t believe that. We don’t believe HP is a business that is broken or rotten at the core, as the stock price is implying."

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CNBC Data Pages:

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Disclosures:

Neither Tony Sacconaghi nor his company own shares in HP.

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