Hewlett-Packard

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For close to two decades, Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) had the perfect business model of combining desktop computing with desktop printing. It was a "hand in glove" strategy that helped propel the company to superiority over competitors such as Dell ( DELL), Lexmark ( LXK) and Gateway.

The company was headed up for many years, from July 1999 to February 2005, by Carly Fiorina, who helped to navigate Hewlett Packard out of the tech bubble crash until her eventual departure. The next permanent CEO to run Hewlett Packard was Mark Hurd who, during his August 2005-to-August 2010 tenure, took the company to post-bubble heights despite the U.S. credit crisis and resultant market crash and recession. Hurd resigned from Hewlett-Packard not due to his failure to successfully operate the company but rather as a result of sexual misconduct charges.

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Unfortunately for Hewlett Packard, that was the beginning of the end for the company and its stock. Hurd was replaced with a software expert, Leo Apotheker, who made several strategic mistakes in a short period of time, including the purchase of Palm and then flip-flopping on its mobile device strategy. Apotheker was recently replaced by Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay ( EBAY), which she took from startup status and built into an Internet retail powerhouse.

Now Whitman is expected to do for Hewlett-Packard what she did for eBay -- but I believe that is a far reach. Hewlett-Packard has structural problems, including the decline in paper publishing and an increase in screen-based publishing from e-readers and Adobe ( ADBE) software. Furthermore, the company finds itself losing competitively to Apple ( AAPL) both in the desktop and mobile space.

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