The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is sinking today, but don't blame it on Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) this time. The troubled computing do-it-all leads the Dow with a 4.1% gain as of 1:45 p.m. EDT. The second-best-performing Dow stock today is Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) with a measly 0.4% jump fueled by the settlement of a high-profile patent suit that will add $2.15 billion to Pfizer's coffers.
If the market gives Pfizer a collective shrug for that legal win, then what does it take to drive HP's market cap as much as $2.4 billion higher today? A few cheerful words from the CEO's lips, backed by an unexpected product launch.
CEO Meg Whitman sat down for a long interview with CNBC this week, and the first clip was published last night. In it, Whitman concedes that there's still "a lot of heavy lifting to do" before HP's long-suffering turnaround can be considered complete. But she also said that the recovery is tracking ahead of the basic five-year plan and that HP is adapting to the demands of a new era in personal and enterprise computing.
"We've got to get to mobility, we've got to get to other operating systems," Whitman said. That idea is right on the money.
HP also announced a handful of new products, and one of them managed to surprise me in a good way. The so-called HP SMB IT in a Box solution (say that five times fast) is a "one-stop shop" product for the IT needs of small and midsize businesses. So far, so blah. But this package doesn't lean on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office, like most SMB solutions from HP and friends tend to do. Instead, HP includes a slew of Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) tools under the Google Apps for Business banner, including Gmail, rather than the standard Outlook/Exchange combo, as well as Google Docs in place of Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint programs.
It's a bold move and a high-profile win for Google's business-class products. HP is the first big vendor to jump aboard Google's reseller program, which helps HP stand apart in a sea of sameness. It's not the safe and predictable choice, but rather a daring stab in a new direction.
So there's some substance to Whitman's big talk this time. I'm still not convinced that HP is headed in the right overall direction, and I'd like to see some thinking even further out of the box. But it's a good start, it's resonating with investors today.
Maybe HP did deserve to jump higher than Pfizer after all.
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