Hewlett-Packard plans to split into two companies: Report

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Hewlett-Packard plans to break in two, separating its computer and printer businesses from its corporate hardware and services operations, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

The company plans to announce the move as early as Monday, the Journal said in a report on its web site that cited people familiar with the matter. The division would be made through a tax-free distribution of shares to stockholders next year, according to the report.

A company spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

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HP and some of its investors have long considered such a move, the newspaper noted. As one of the older big computer companies, for several years HP directors have discussed ways to restructure to keep up with technology upstarts.

Company split-ups in which shares of new divisions were spun off to stockholders in the past have resulted in higher stock market returns for investors.

Many investors and analysts have called for a break-up of the company, or a sale of the personal computer business, so that HP could focus on the more profitable operations of providing computer servers, networking and data storage to businesses.

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Company executives have said in the past that personal computers underpin and support the company as a whole.

The PC business has shown signs of life in recent quarters, growing broadly geographically as businesses replace aging machines.