Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) has been the worst performer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) over the last year. HP's 38% plunge in dividend-adjusted terms cuts far deeper than second-place loser Intel 's (NASDAQ:INTC) 19% drop. The chip giant suffers from the same adverse PC markets as HP, but it doesn't have to deal with the added pressure of management missteps and failed strategy changes. That's why the two price dives don't begin to compare.
But HP's humiliation runs far deeper than that. It's the second-worst performer in the much larger pool of S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) components, beaten to the bottom only by Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF). The metallurgical-coal producer has taken a 51% share-price haircut in the last 52 weeks, because investors aren't sure that the stellar 7% dividend yield will be around much longer.
Hewlett-Packard doesn't have a 7% dividend to defend, but the tech veteran faces demons uniquely its own. Since ex-CEO Mark Hurd was forced out under scandalous terms three years ago, the company has gone through three replacement CEOs and overarching strategy shifts. Current leader Meg Whitman is still dealing with fallout from Leo Apotheker's big software bets, and she has admitted that it will take years to repair the damage.
Furthermore, the revolving door in HP's corner office has unmasked the deeper structural problems that Hurd's heavy cost-cutting hand brought to his company. Chasing short-term profits, Hurd gave HP a long-term lobotomy. The innovative verve that made HP a natural Dow member in the first place is gone.
Cliff's Natural Resources may be the victim of mistaken identities as its specialized coal-production gets lumped together with the troubled energy-oriented coal industry. Intel could be the best buy on the Dow at today's low prices, if you believe the company has a place in the new semiconductor market. But it's much harder to make a bullish case for HP.
This beaten-down Dow stock only seems destined to fall even further.
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