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HP's History of Leaking News

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- It seems a mere throw-in point, but apparently only Barron's (NWS - Get Report) made it, and it could very well stand as defining. When it comes to sharing secrets with the media, Hewlett Packard (HPQ - Get Report) tends to leak like a sieve.

This is important because news broke yesterday that HP was going to kick CEO Leo Apotheker to the curb after only 9 months. The market rejoiced.

Bloomberg broke the story, citing two anonymous sources. Bloomberg--and perhaps all reports that followed, however--did not mention what Barron's did: HP has a history of leaking legitimate news.

This does not mean that the news is definite, or that traders were not overreacting to the possibility of change at the top of HP, probably troubled no matter who is in charge.

Historically, HP is no Apple (AAPL.) Apple is notoriously tight-lipped. Take whatever you hear leaked from Cupertino, where Apple is headquartered, with an ice-cream scooper of salt. We can run through chapter and verse of HP leaks (ironically enough, few saw Apotheker's hiring coming) but Barron's speaks the larger truth: HP leaks come true, by and large.

Anonymous sourcing forces traders into a guessing game. It's an imperfect game, to say the least, with a lot of losers. But about the only item to go on is whether the company's is classically a good leaker, like HP, or a bad one, like Apple.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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