When all else fails, scapegoat, which in corporate America means fire your CEO. According to a headline from Bloomberg right now, HPQ (and soon many other companies) will follow Yahoo in dumping its CEO, Leo Apotheker. The result: a surge in the stock. Our question: will Leo draft his "WTF" letter from an iPad as well? Expect the Netflix board to "spin off" its CEO next.
Under a scenario being considered, Hewlett-Packard’s directors may appoint former EBay Inc. (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman as his successor, possibly on an interim basis, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the plans aren’t public.
If the board carries through on the plan, Apotheker, 58, would depart after slicing sales forecasts three times since he became CEO in November and presiding over strategy shifts that left shareholders doubting his credibility. The company’s stock has plunged 47 percent on his watch, and “investor exasperation” with management is at its highest in more than a decade, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in a research report last week.
Whitman, who joined Hewlett-Packard’s board in January after a failed bid to become California’s governor last year, had a mixed record at EBay. As CEO for a decade, she took the company public and pioneered online commerce for small businesses. Yet she also failed to halt a slowdown in revenue growth and overpaid for Skype Technologies SA after a three-way bidding war with Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.
Pressure on Apotheker intensified last month after he announced a sweeping overhaul that included a $10.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy Corp. and a possible spinoff of Hewlett- Packard’s personal computer division. He also reversed course on a plan announced only five months earlier to put the WebOS mobile operating system onto the company’s computers.