Hewlett-Packard (HPQ): This company spent billions of dollars on disastrous, poorly timed or overpriced acquisitions -- including Palm, 3PAR and Autonomy -- in just the last year. Hewlett-Packard has developed a bipolar strategy when it comes to its TouchPad tablet strategy. In August 2010, longtime and successful CEO Mark Hurd resigned over, shall we say, personal matters. He was replaced by Leo Apotheker, a software expert and former CEO of SAP (SAP) to head up this hardware firm. Apotheker, after blundering the TouchPad strategy, decided to spin off the company's personal computer division. He lasted a few days short of a year in his role and was replaced by former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman. Whitman reversed the decision on the PC spinoff. Perhaps she can save this $58 billion company, which has seen its stock price slashed by a third in the past year. Until then, Hewlett-Packard, because of its dysfunctional history, will be categorized as a worst-run company.
Again, not everyone agrees with me. HP, one of the top five Dow stocks in David Tepper's portfolio, shows up on recent lists of the 10 Dow Stocks With Lowest P/E Ratios and 5 Stocks for Bargain Hunters.
Sprint Nextel (S): If I deemed Sprint a second banana, I would be all too generous. You have to go back to 2006 since the company last turned a profit. Losses are expected for 2011 and 2012 as well. In an ever-expanding world of mobile telecommunications, Sprint Nextel does not offer products and services that can compete with those of Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), which are likely to be a virtual national duopoly whether or not AT&T completes its acquisition of T-Mobile. Sprint Nextel's stock has declined 35% in the past year, and I do not see it going higher anytime soon unless management can perform a miracle.
To see these stocks in action, check out the 11 Worst-Managed Companies of 2011 portfolio.-- Written by Scott Rothbort in Millburn, N.J.
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