Hewlett-Packard's Schizophrenic Tendencies

Just after announcing that it's spinning off its Personal Systems Group, Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) announced plans for eight new desktop PCs. Aiming at both consumers and small business, four touchscreen models are among those coming down the chute.

Although the Personal Systems Group generated nearly $41 billion in sales last year, HP wants to unload it. But before the PC group draws its last breath under its corporate umbrella, HP will try to squeeze a few more dollars from it. The TouchSmart Elite computer for small business should be out by next week and sell for $850, according to Bloomberg. Consumers should be attracted to the three other TouchSmart models, with pricing between $600 and $900.

To round out the new offerings, HP's latest PCs will incorporate the screen and electronics into a single unit. A new notebook computer announcement is also imminent.

In another turnaround, after announcing its demise, HP churned out more TouchPad tablet computers with a bargain-basement price tag of $99. The right hand doesn't seem to agree with what the left hand is doing. Hewlett-Packard is still striving to license the WebOS operating system it got from Palm and is the guts of the TouchPad.

HP draws its revenues from imaging and printing systems, computing systems, and information technology services for both individuals and business. The company may expand into the software arena, as evidenced by its acquisition of Autonomy, an infrastructure enterprise software company based in England with a customer base of more than 25,000 global companies, law firms, and public-sector agencies.

Hewlett-Packard seems to be moving in fits and starts, not sure of a direction. This uncertainty was reflected at the annual meeting in March, when investors held the line quashing a proposed compensation package for folks at the company's helm.

Even with income at $9 billion, HP stock has suffered tough times, posting a 52-week high of $49.39 and a low of $22.75. On Friday, it dipped to $22.61. Not too encouraging for the company that one analyst titled the best tech stock of 2009. Times do change.


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