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HP Has Strong Team, Needs Cogent Strategy: Fiorina

Meg Whitman and Ray Lane make a "very strong team" at Hewlett-Packard, but what the computer company needs is a "cogent strategy that is clearly communicated, that is executed well over time, and that the board is going to support," former HP CEO Carly Fiorina told CNBC.

"That’s what success is going to look like" for HP , she said Tuesday, "and as with any CEO, their performance is delivered over time."

HP chose the former eBay CEO late Thursdayto replace Leo Apotheker, fired by the board after 11 months.

Fiorina, HP's CEO from 1999 to 2005 and the engineer behind its merger with Compaq, said HP is a complex company with 323,000 employees and has the world's largest distribution channel and supply chain. The key, she said, is how the company is going to leverage those assets.

"If people don’t know what your strategy is, they can’t execute it and they can’t invest in it," she said. "I think the most important strategic question…they need to actually come to a decision on is, wither goes the PC business?"

Fiorina didn't answer that question, but said she wouldn't break up HP because the company's "scope, scale, and diversification are precisely what gives it power."

Fiorina said she would increase investment in research and development, which was cut by her successor, Mark Hurd.

"They cut it too far. It’s an easy cut," she said. "It’s easy to cut expenses for the short term. Investors like it in the short term. But over the longer term, what happens is you lose the competitive edge, which in some ways appears to be what was happening in the PC business around a tablet device. So they need to make investments in R&D."