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Why Hewlett-Packard Has Underperformed the Dow

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) contains 30 of the best-known and most successful companies in the world. They build the airplanes we ride on, serve us millions of hamburgers every day, and bring us the Internet on the devices they assemble.

But while their distinct identities are often usurped by inclusion on the index, each of the Dow's components offers investors unique opportunities and exposure. With this in mind, this article series provides a cursory update on each of the 30 stocks included on the storied index. Up today is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) .

As you can see in the following chart, HP is being dominated by the Dow. For the year, the longtime personal-computer maker is down nearly 37% while the broader market is up more than 8.5%. What gives?

HPQ Total Return Price data by YCharts.

My colleague Matt Thalman probably summed up HP's recent performance best by saying: "If you feel like [HP] is constantly one of the Dow stocks moving lower...well, that's because it is."

Suffice it to say, HP's problems come down to one simple fact: The personal-computer market, HP's bread and butter, is waning in favor of tablets and smartphones. As my colleague Evan Niu noted: "The PC market ain't what it used to be." Just recently, analysts pegged PC growth in the second quarter as effectively flat, and things look worse going forward.

Explaining its decision to temper forward earning guidance, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) recently admitted that its customers -- namely, hardware manufacturers -- are reducing inventory at a time when they typically grow it in preparation for the holiday season and that there's "softness" in the enterprise PC business.

Over the weekend, moreover, an analyst at Evercore Partners reduced growth forecasts for the PC industry to -4% in 2012 and zero in 2013, compared with a previous forecast of flat for 2012 and 4% growth next year.

So is HP dead in the water?
While this is impossible to predict with certainty, as HP is trying to remake itself under new leadership, things don't look good for the 70-plus-year-old company going forward. It's for this reason, in turn, that investors would be wise to play it safe with one of the three stocks identified in our widely popular free report about American companies set to dominate the world. To access this free report instantly, simply click here now.

Fool contributor John Maxfield does not own shares in Intel or HP. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2012, at 12:39 PM, abdu2 wrote:

    You dont think that an inept Chairman and an non-tech CEO have anything to do with the performance of the company?

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2012, at 1:04 PM, cbglobal wrote:

    What a bunch of lies. PC's are a big 15% of HP's business; not what I would call bread and butter. In fact the PC business is Compaq which they bought just 10 years ago. HP has been a huge tech company for half a century, not selling PC's at all.

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9/29/2016 4:35 PM
^DJI $18143.45 Down -195.79 -1.07%
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Intel CAPS Rating: ****