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'The Office' of the CEO: HP's Revolving Door

Stocks in this article: HPQ CSCO ORCL AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Beleaguered tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) always seems to be faced with challenges and shortfalls it needs to fix, to put it mildly.

Most recently the company was embarrassed to reveal an estimated $8.8 billion write-down for a botched acquisition for British software company Autonomy, a deal that took place in 2011.

Unlike any other company over the past decade, Hewlett-Packard has not been able to get out of its own way. Accordingly, the office of the CEO has had a revolving door.

Things seem different this time. Meg Whitman, who is HP's sixth CEO since 2005 (not counting interim CEOs), appears to have brought some stability. The company has hit bottom and Street expectations have been tossed out the window. The cynic in me, however, believes it's only a matter of time before another bombshell hits.

A Nine-Year Run

After nine strong years as one of the best shows on NBC, the lights in "The Office" turn off for good tonight. HP's imprint on the show is easy to see. Each flat-screen monitor sported the logo. In a bit of irony, the show's mocking of office dysfunction and inefficiencies paralleled much of what has brought Hewlett-Packard investors plenty of angst.

Said another way, HP has a history of dysfunction and waste that have been major catalysts to HP's decline and missed market opportunities. But it never had to be that way. Nine years ago, when "The Office" began to make its mark on workplace culture, there was also a mark on Hewlett-Packard in the name of Mark Hurd, who is now a president at rival Oracle (ORCL).


The struggles HP has experienced since Hurd's departure highlight what I consider to have been the company's most egregious mistake -- letting Hurd go over allegations of sexual misconduct. Sex in "The Office" was an everyday happening -- in fact, it boosted moral even to those who weren't involved.

For that matter, following Hurd's departure, HP's stock has been in a free fall. Take a look at the chart. The "BH" denotes the stock's performance before Hurd, the "WH" denotes his tenure, while the "AH" is the stock's performance after his departure.

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