What: Shares of IT giant Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) fell 10% in June, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Waist-deep in a turnaround effort that includes splitting HP into two separate companies this November, the stock has plunged 23% year-to-date.
So what: HP's weakness in June was not necessarily its own fault. Rather, the slide followed broader trends in the PC systems industry, which accounts for about half of HP's total sales and operating profits. Other companies in this sector published weak results with a side of gloomy forward guidance, pinning their troubles directly on that all-important PC market. Independent PC market reports and analyst updates have not helped the sector, either.
Now what: The PC market may not be dead, but it is undeniably a painful place to put your investment dollars right now. HP's split into one enterprise business and one consumer-focused operation will let investors focus on whichever segment they believe holds the most long-term value. Unless there is a dramatic sector-wide turnaround in the cards, the enterprise-centered HP stock will start out as the safer choice, while turnaround speculators can bet directly on the consumer division.
That split will not come until November, though. Until then, you would have to buy into both of these wildly different investment theses in order to justify buying shares at all.
I am happy to stay on the sidelines for a few more months. Come November, we will know how the 2015 holiday season is shaping up for hardware vendors like HP, and the Windows 10 refresh will start affecting corporate year-end budgets. And we will not know how deeply Mr. Market might discount HP's consumer risk until the new stocks actually hit the market.
So, I am holding my horses. Maybe you should, too.