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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: The All-HP Edition

5. Whitman Channels Obama -- Originally published on Oct. 5, 2012

Why shouldn't Meg Whitman blame the previous administration for her economic problems?

If it's working for President Obama in his race against Mitt Romney, then it may help her keep her job as well.

The Hewlett Packard CEO, who took the top job last year after a failed run for the California governorship, pointed the finger at her predecessors for the company's recent failings at an investor conference on Wednesday. Whitman told the crowd that HP's excessive turnover in the corner office -- three CEOs in the past three years -- is preventing a quicker turnaround for the troubled tech giant.

Whitman also lowered the company's profit projections for fiscal 2013 to $3.40 to $3.60 per share. The Street had already penciled in earnings of $4.17 per share. Shares of HP sank 13% to $15 on her buck-passing.

"My belief is that the single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packard has been changes in CEOs and executive leadership, which has caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices and frankly some significant executional miscues," Whitman told the crowd. "This is important because as a result it is going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like."

So how does Captain Meg plan to turn the ship around?

Well, unlike President Obama and the national economy, she is actually counting on widespread lay-offs to help resuscitate HP's fortunes. The company is already in the process of canning 29,000 employees over the next two years to get costs into line with slowing corporate spending and plummeting PC demand.

Hmmm. We wonder what Governor Whitman would have said to HP CEO Whitman about all those lay-offs had she won that political race. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) HP CEO Whitman will never be forced to answer that question.

So when will Whitman -- who last year at her inauguration pronounced "I believe HP matters -- it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world" -- get things at HP moving again?

"Fiscal year 2015 will be the year of acceleration," said Whitman. "Revenues should be growing faster than cost."

2015 huh? At this rate that's still pretty ambitious Meg.

Maybe you should ask for four more years.

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