Don't Pin Your Hopes on Hewlett-Packard

 | Dec 10, 2012 | 3:13 PM EST  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

hpq

,

dell

Is there anything to Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)? Should we be in it because where there is smoke, there is fire?

First, let me say that I hate Hewlett-Packard. If I wanted to speculate on tech, I would rather own Dell (DELL) than Hewlett, knowing that we are on the eve of hearing Dell spell out what it might have in store for long-suffering shareholders at its big analyst meeting tomorrow. Why Dell over Hewlett? Because Dell has a fabulous balance sheet, and Hewlett-Packard does not.

Second, while I am sure there are some hidden assets and gems buried within Hewlett-Packard, I know that the company's balance sheet could use shoring up, and anything that brings out the value in the company without an outside investor committing capital I think falls flat.

In other words, you have to buy it and then sell it on the news of the activist's stake.

And that brings me to my real worry about Hewlett. If there is no activist, I don't know how you get out without a loss unless you bet it bounces back after the tax-loss selling that I am sure is pretty much endless until January.

There simply must be a thesis beyond, "There's someone who's going to come in and try to rattle things up."

I can't think of one. Can you? 

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