The newly appointed leader of Hewlett-Packard acknowledged yesterday the computer and printer maker is ailing, but stopped short of saying...

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PALO ALTO, Calif. — The newly appointed leader of Hewlett-Packard acknowledged yesterday the computer and printer maker is ailing, but stopped short of saying whether the Silicon Valley stalwart should remain intact.

A day after being named president and chief executive, Mark Hurd, 48, said he plans to take several months to learn about the diversified technology company, with one of his first priorities being financial evaluations of its five divisions and dozens of product lines.

“I don’t think you’ll find me doing anything tricky,” Hurd, previous head of Dayton, Ohio-based NCR, said at a news conference at HP headquarters.

Director Patricia Dunn told reporters she expected Hurd to overcome within six months the most daunting obstacle: learning and blending into HP’s fraternal corporate culture, known as “the HP way.”

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“It’s a challenge he will absolutely meet quickly,” Dunn said.

Earlier in the day, Dunn told financial analysts the board was eager to hear Hurd’s opinion about whether directors should make major changes to HP’s business strategy, including whether to break the company into two or more pieces.

Hurd’s appointment comes less than two months after the board ousted Chief Executive Carly Fiorina amid concerns she failed to deliver the benefits of the acquisition of Compaq Computer nearly three years ago.

“Strategy is a living, breathing thing, and it’s the responsibility of the CEO to recommend strategy, and I’m sure Mark will do that,” Dunn said.

Financial analysts praised the selection of Hurd, though some questioned whether any executive can reverse the waning fortunes of HP, which is locked in a fierce battle on multiple fronts against rivals IBM and Dell.

HP’s stock has dramatically underperformed that of its competitors, although it has rebounded strongly off its 52-week low. In trading yesterday, shares rose 22 cents to close at $22. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $16.08 to $23.75.

The company is making less money on its once unrivaled printers, and employee morale is flagging after years of cost cutting and layoffs.

Hurd, a unanimous pick of HP’s board, will assume CEO responsibilities next week. But during a conference call with analysts and a media event yesterday on HP’s Silicon Valley campus, he refused to provide details about how he would lead the company, insisting he needs to study the company’s operations first.

Hurd said he would approach his new job with “excitement and humility.” He planned to speak yesterday with key HP executives, including some who were passed over for the top position.

“I don’t know any other way to do it, other than to get under every single piece of the business,” said Hurd, who spent the last 25 years at NCR.

Hurd dismissed speculation he would follow a business strategy similar to that of NCR, a computer-services company that operates ATMs and data warehouses that store countless bits of information from corporate customers.

Before he took the helm of NCR, Hurd was NCR president and chief operating officer and led the company’s lucrative Teradata warehouse division.

Starting in the late ’90s, shareholders questioned whether NCR should spin off that unit. Hurd refused. But that decision doesn’t mean he’ll keep HP intact, Hurd said.

“It would be wrong for me to try to take the formula I used at NCR and try to use it at HP,” he said.