The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: Nov. 30
1. Yet More HP Hysteria
Just when we thought we were out of Hewlett Packard's (HPQ) wacky world, they pull us back in!
You may remember that last week we featured an all-HP version of our Dumbest list on the heels of the company's $8.8 billion writedown of its Autonomy division. HP CEO Meg Whitman accused Autonomy of "serious accounting improprieties" prior to HP's $10.3 billion purchase last year, and as a result we stuffed our weekly countdown with two years of HP highlights, or, should we say, lowlights.
It was the first time we ever focused an entire column on a single company and we really thought we had seen the last of the troubled tech giant for a while. Seriously, how much dumb stuff can happen to a single company in a span of two years?Alas, like Lindsay Lohan popping up on Page Six of the New York Post, HP seems determined to grace our Dumbest list with each and every step downward. Last week it was the writeoff itself. This week it's the escalating war of words between HP and Mike Lynch, the former chief executive officer of Autonomy Corp. In a letter to news organizations, Lynch pressed HP's board for "immediate and specific explanations" of its claims, adding that "Autonomy's finances, during its years as a public company and including the time period in question, were handled in accordance with applicable regulations and accounting practices." Oh man, or should we say, oh woman! He went right over Meg's head to the board with that challenge. We thought Mike would be lawyering up by now, but that just is not the case. Lynch does not think he's lynching himself at all by going public with his defense. Now that's moxie for you Meg! Or utter insanity. We don't know yet. HP, for its part, is not taking the bait. The company replied to Lynch's request Tuesday by saying it will take legal action against "parties involved" at the appropriate time. "While Dr. Lynch is eager for a debate, we believe the legal process is the correct method in which to bring out the facts and take action on behalf of our shareholders," HP said in an emailed response. "In that setting, we look forward to hearing Dr. Lynch and other former Autonomy employees answer questions under penalty of perjury." To be perfectly honest, we look forward to it too folks. We thought we could break the HP habit, but clearly we can't. This slow motion train wreck just keeps sucking us in. And as long as it does, you can count on us covering it. --Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.
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