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HP CEO ready to make NYC splash
Hurd to give analysts, journalists his vision for computer company's growth.
December 12, 2005: 5:54 AM EST
By Adam Lashinsky, Fortune
Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd will make a major presentation to analysts and journalists Tuesday in New York.
Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd will make a major presentation to analysts and journalists Tuesday in New York.

SAN FRANCISCO (FORTUNE) - Hewlett Packard is throwing a coming-out party Tuesday for Mark Hurd, its chief executive. That's when the company hosts a meeting for investors and journalists in New York City, and it's the first time serious HP watchers will get a good, sustained look at Hurd.

In the nearly eight months since being named to replace the ubiquitous Carly Fiorina, Hurd has kept a relatively low profile outside HP (Research). It's been no mistake. Hurd has had some messy work to do, from restructuring the company's major divisions to cutting 14,500 jobs. In between, he has made a handful of acquisitions, notably of software companies, and presided over a solid recovery in the company's performance, at least for the two full quarters he's been at the helm.

The stock of the computer and peripherals company has responded: It was just below $20 before Hurd joined. It closed Friday at just below $30. (The stock is up 30% since Fortune urged its readers to "Take A Look at HP".)

The consensus among HP watchers is that Hurd is an able cost cutter and a no-nonsense manager, but that the successes of the past half-year aren't really attributed solely to his leadership. PCs were on their way back and HP's software business, a newly profitable billion-dollar business, was long nurtured under Fiorina.

Now it's time for Hurd to present a vision for HP's growth. The buzz -- which emanates largely from HP's well oiled public-relations and investor-relations arms -- is that Hurd plans to live up to that billing Tuesday. Each of the HP's major business-unit heads will give an update on their businesses, and Hurd will offer his observations and his plan.

What's he likely to say? When he spoke at a Gartner conference in October, Hurd boiled down his thoughts on HP into what he calls the company's three core competencies: creating solutions, creating demand for those solutions and servicing those solutions.

Here's what the jargon means: Creating solutions means coming up with the right mix of PCs, server computers and printing equipment, in other words, the technology that customers want. Creating demand is a fancy way of saying the company needs to do a good job of selling what the technologists and product managers dream up. Servicing the solutions making ever more money by offering consulting, maintenance and outsourcing services to customers.

Wall Street is focused on much more mundane things than Hurd's view of HP's "core competencies." It's trying to figure out how much money a well run Hewlett Packard can make.

UBS analyst Ben Reitzes, for example, thinks Hurd will tell investors that HP can achieve 8 percent-plus operating margins, a full percentage point better than what it's done in the recent past. Sound ho-hum? Each half-percent of profitability improvement translates into 10 cents per share of extra earnings per share. And an extra dime of EPS can mean an extra dollar or more on the stock price.

Mark Hurd is off to about as good a start as anyone could have imagined at HP. Tuesday is his day to tell the world what's next.

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Hewlett-Packard Company
Mark Hurd
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