As stocks surge, a look at HP and Google

As the stock markets surge — the Dow was trading at a record high this morning and could close above its record high from 2007 — a couple of quick notes about tech stocks:

• The Associated Press notes in its article about the Dow’s big comeback that Hewlett-Packard is the only stock in the index that’s lower (22 percent) than it was four years ago. We know what’s wrong there: HP has been plagued by instability caused by turnover at the top (four CEOs in the past four years, including interim ones), plus a slowdown in PC sales amid the shift to mobile. However, the Palo Alto company’s shares are up about 30 percent since the beginning of the year. HP shares were trading nearly 2.5 percent higher at $20.45 as of this post. CEO Meg Whitman said a couple of weeks ago that the company’s turnaround is slowly but surely on track.

But wait, as they say, there’s more. Is HP’s stock rise today being sparked by more than just the broader market action? Influential proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is recommending against the re-election of Board Chairman Ray Lane and a couple of other board members, saying they “bear the most responsibility for a very costly oversight failure” that was the $10 billion-plus purchase of British software company Autonomy, which HP has since accused of faulty accounting. In November, HP announced it was taking an $8.8 billion charge on that purchase. (See HP shares sink on double whammy of huge writedown, falling sales.)

HP’s annual meeting is scheduled for March 20.

Google continues to climb to record highs, with analysts and investors thinking it is well-positioned in mobile and video. Shares of the Mountain View company were up more than 2 percent to $838.50 as of this post. A Reuters article with the headline “Is Google the next Apple?” quotes an analyst who says “it seems to be the big momentum stock right now.” As GMSV noted, Google shares reached $800 for the first time less than a month ago. They are up nearly 19 percent for the year.



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