4 Outsiders That Could Lead HP Rescue

NEW YORK, ( TheStreet) -- HP's ( HPQ) deeply dysfunctional board appears to be running the company off the rails. The presumed ouster of CEO Leo Apotheker and the apparent appointment of former EBay ( EBAY) chief Meg Whitman is just the latest chapter in this saga.

The potential exit of Apotheker, after a one-year run of financial disappointments capped off by a stunning breakup plan, has led analysts and investors to create a list of dream candidates to take over the top HP job.

Should the Whitman gambit not work out, a few names of outside talent have popped up as the sort of steady hands that could take the wheel and avert disaster.

For any would-be candidate, HP's predicament -- stalled growth, brutal competition in hardware and a dicey transition to services and software -- is a daunting challenge. But for a certain breed of hardcharger, the turmoil is probably seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring a revered tech giant back to glory.

Inside candidates, having been passed over the last time HP went CEO hunting, might be seen more favorably in this go-round. But several Wall Street types surveyed by TheStreet have dreamed up a sort of wish list of outsiders that might be good fits.

No. 4, Motorola chief Sanjay Jha

Now that Google ( GOOG) is in a $12.5 billion deal to acquire Motorola Mobility ( MMI), CEO Sanjay Jha could be called on to perform another death-defying deed elsewhere. You'll recall Jha came to Motorola from Qualcomm ( QCOM) in 2009 and completely rebuilt the company around Google Android phones.

Not only did that avoid what looked to be certain doom for the phone maker, it revived Motorola enough to catch the interest of Google.

In tech turnarounds, there have been very few recent success stories, but Jha certainly authored one at Motorola. If called upon, he could try his hand with HP.

Strength: Has a big turnaround trophy with Google/Motorola.

Weakness: A deep wireless background isn't on HP's criteria list.

No. 3, Cisco COO Gary Moore

Now that Cisco ( CSCO) chief John Chambers looks like he's sticking around three more years, Gary Moore is probably open to other offers.

Moore is the take-charge guy who's been tasked with cutting costs and getting Cisco refocused on its core router and switching business. The fact that Chambers picked Moore for such a key role suggests he could be the kind of turnaround artist HP needs.

Strength: Not afraid to get his hands dirty.

Weakness: Hardware guy in an increasingly services and software role.

No.2, Acadia chief Michael Capellas

A blast from the past. Mike Capellas, former president of HP after his company Compaq was acquired, is a surprising long-shot but a compelling potential candidate.

Capellas currently runs Acadia, the cloud computing partnership/joint venture between Cisco ( CSCO) and EMC ( EMC).

"Capellas is very operations focused, and he knows the landscape well," says Alpha One Capital Partners' Dan Niles.

Strengths: Knows the cloud, has a strong track record at Compaq and HP.

Weaknesses: Man of the moment, too many moments ago.

No.1, IBM sales chief Virginia Rometty

Virginia "Ginny" Rometty, is the full package, at least on paper.

Not only does Rometty run global sales for IBM ( IBM), she sits on the company's executive strategy team. And she rose to that rank from chief of IBM's global services division.

"HP needs someone with deep enterprise market experience," says one investor, who puts Rometty at the top of his list.

Strengths: Can sell to businesses

Weaknesses: Bleeds IBM blue, an antigen in Silicon Valley.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: scott.moritz@thestreet.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter at MoritzDispatch