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HP Shares Rise Ahead of Analyst Meeting

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is set to hold its analyst day this coming Tuesday, and if the company hasn't named a new CEO by then or even as part of the festivities, it's sure to face plenty of questions about where it's leaning.

The stock is coming off a strong week where it gained almost 5%, including a 2.1% rise to $40.98 on Friday. It was the second positive week in a row for the shares which sold off in the wake of Mark Hurd's departure on August 6, setting a new 52-week low of $37.32 on August 27, a swing of 32% from its April 16 high for the year of $54.75. Prior to Hurd's surprise resignation, the stock was sitting comfortably above $46.

Wall Street was split on how imminent an announcement on a new CEO might be ahead of the meeting. Collins Stewart, which has a buy rating on the stock with a $55 price target, issued a note on Thursday saying it believes the company is close to announcing Hurd's successor, most likely an internal candidate.

It doesn't expect this will spark the stock to previous heights however, and didn't venture a guess as to who might get the job beyond identifying three likely candidates -- Anne Livermore, executive vice president, Enterprise Business; Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, and also the former CEO of Palm; and Dave Donatelli, executive vice president, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking -- and listing some positives and negatives for each.

Collins Stewart sees VJ Joshi, HP's executive vice president, Imaging and Printing Group, as a less likely candidate than the others, saying the printing business hasn't grown enough to justify a larger role for him.

"While the fact of resolving the CEO question will probably give rise to a modest relief rally, it is unlikely to generate the enthusiasm of five years ago when Hurd was named CEO," the firm told clients, saying the announcement could come in the "very near term."

ISI Group, however, offered a preview of the meeting earlier in the week, and it doesn't expect HP will reveal its next leader.

"We expect the company to offer its preliminary FY11 outlook in addition to providing an overview of each of its businesses," the firm said. "We would not be surprised if the company does not have an update on its CEO search by the analyst day."

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