Hewlett-Packard said Monday it may buy back as much as $8 billion in shares, matching its largest repurchase.

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Hewlett-Packard (HP) said Monday it may buy back as much as $8 billion in shares, matching its largest repurchase.

About $3 billion remained under the previous repurchase plan, approved last year, HP said. A buyback for the full amount would equal about 166 million shares, or 6.8 percent of the stock outstanding, based on last Friday’s closing price.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd is rewarding investors after hanging on to the lead in personal-computer shipments for two years in a row, taking customers from Dell. Last month, HP reported third-quarter profit that surpassed analysts’ estimates after introducing sleeker laptop designs.

“It’s positive, but mostly expected,” said Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco. “HP’s been in a buyback mode for a while. We don’t know if this changes the trajectory at all.” He advises buying the shares.

Hewlett-Packard fell $1.10 to close at $47.16 Monday. The stock has declined 6.6 percent this year, compared with a 32 percent drop for Dell.

The company, which had $14.8 billion in cash and short-term investments as of the end of July, bought back as much as $1.6 billion worth of its shares in the third quarter. Last year, Hewlett-Packard increased its authorization to $8 billion from $6 billion.

Hewlett-Packard had 18.1 percent of PC shipments in the latest calendar quarter, compared with 15.6 percent for Dell, according to Gartner.