HP's Death Is Not Greatly Exaggerated

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --

When I sent Hewlett-Packard Needs to Stop Selling Computers over for publication last week, I thought I had just submitted the most straightforward, cogent and clear article of my career.

Financial media gold.

Based on a small, most likely non-representative cross-section of response, it appears I was wrong. A few tortured souls didn't understand what I was saying. It would have been fine to consider my opinions farcical and inaccurate, but to not even comprehend them is an entirely different matter.

A classic case of denial and psychological filtering -- pure rationalization.

The evidence is there. Investors, not to mention key executives at companies, could easily see for themselves the pending death at outfits such as Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ). It's all about acknowledging, not distorting, present-day reality and stepping out of your comfort zone to objectively vision the future based on what we know about the past.

I explain the logic of the Kodak ( KODK) to HP and Blackberry ( BBRY) to HP comparisons in the video.

But there's another, even more compelling way to consider HP's situation and the response to it.

Often, when a consumer electronics company that also does enterprise business starts to decay before our eyes, ardent bulls of that company begin to shift focus off of the consumer failing, arguing that strength with corporate customers will keep said company alive.

It happened, memorably, with Blackberry. The artist formerly known as RIM's supporters touted the Blackberry security advantage with businesses. There was no way IT departments would let something like Apple's ( AAPL) iOS in, no matter how badly employees demanded it through their words and actions.

It's happening now with Microsoft ( MSFT). As it dies a painfully obvious death with the consumer, we're told by bulls there's no way Apple will overtake Microsoft in enterprise. I mean it costs too much money to unwind all of that Windows and Office infrastructure so it simply can't happen!

Do an intellectual dig into that common defense. You'll see just how sorry it is. It's not the merits of Microsoft products that will keep them running at businesses, it's simply because they're so unwieldy and weaved into an operation, it's apparently "impossible" to unwind the apparatus. They've been left behind in such entrenched fashion, they've become more of a headache you can't get rid of than an asset.

We can call this Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer executing the George Constanza business strategy:

HP bulls argue you don't understand the company's business if you claim it will die without massive change. Like BBRY and MSFT bulls, they point to enterprise services and solutions. But they miss two important points.

One, death with the consumer often foretells death in the enterprise. Blackberry is, and soon Microsoft will be, the classic case studies in this phenomenon.

Two, why would anybody in their right mind even be excited about or have hope for HP's enterprise operations?

Start on Page 57 of HP's most recent quarterly report (it comes just after page after page after page of lawsuit disclosures) and find me a business line that didn't see a year-over-year revenue decrease and commentary from management that contains nothing other than excuses. There's no sign, in these official documents or in Meg Whitman's public statements, that the company is prepared to shift in any meaningful way to halt it unraveling.

Here's a seemingly comical rundown of what HP says on Page 63 of the aforementioned document:

In Personal Systems, we continue to be negatively impacted by the market shift towards tablet products within mobility, which has reduced the demand for consumer and notebook products.

Get out!

In Printing, we are experiencing the impact of the growth in mobility, weak consumer demand, weak demand in EMEA and a competitive pricing environment.

Really! And, by the way, "the impact of the growth in mobility" and "weak demand" really should not be separated by the word "and." They're not separate phenomena; rather, one leads to the other. They're inextricably linked. And this ain't changing in any of our lifetimes.

In the Enterprise Group, we are experiencing revenue declines due to multiple market trends ... In Enterprise Services, we are facing market and macroeconomic pressures, a competitive pricing environment, internal execution challenges, and weak public sector spending ... In Software, we are facing multiple challenges, including the market shift to software-as-a-service and go-to-market execution challenges.

HP answers pretty much every one of its own admissions with something like "To be successful in addressing these challenges, we must execute on our multi-year turnaround plan, which includes ..." a whole bunch of hope and absolutely zero meaningful change.

Meg Whitman's a great leader all right! Her turnaround plan consists of sort of acknowledging external forces, completely blaming them and hoping in opposition to the sober reality that they absolutely will not change.

But Meg's savvier than we give her credit for. By embarking on "a multi-year turnaround" plan she instantly prolonged a CEO tenure that never should have started in the first place. If investors and the board at HP give her the full five years, they're more delusional than we give them credit for.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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