Analysts: Hurd hire is clue to HP growth plan

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s decision this week to name Mark Hurd, former NCR Corp. president and chief executive officer, as its new president and CEO is a signal that the company is focused on aggressive growth, according to industry analysts.

Mark Stahlman, an analyst with Caris & Company in New York, said HP's decision to make board member Jay Keyworth a member of the screening team for a new CEO also indicates the company's strategy for the future is on growth.

"Keyworth has long been identified with the use of high technology for aggressive economic growth," Stahlman said. "That means this is a growth CEO."

Hurd and Keyworth's connections to Washington also point toward a commitment to the company's federal business, Stahlman said. Keyworth was science adviser to the president and director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy under Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1986.

Hurd is a member of the Computer Systems Policy Project, an IT industry advocacy organization comprised of CEOs. The coalition develops and advocates the IT industry's public policy positions on technology and trade issues.

"What you're dealing with here is a growth CEO with significant Washington policy connections," Stahlman said. "This isn't simply a nuts-and-bolts guy. This is a guy who is already a member of an elite policy club, so he is probably more of a heavyweight than people have given him credit for."

Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich said Hurd should be a good "cultural fit" for HP.

"Hurd can be charismatic and aggressive but comes off as low key," Milunovich said. "He is a blue collar CEO, more interested in rolling up his sleeves to solve problems than appear in front of cameras."

Stahlman said he expects the marriage between Hurd and HP to be successful.

"The company has a very well designed and strongly agreed upon growth strategy," Stahlman said. "HP is not confused. HP is not wandering in the dark. All the senior managers at HP agreed upon an aggressive growth strategy."

"I don't think there would be any change of the importance to HP on our involvement in the federal business," said Monica Sarkar, an HP spokeswoman.

Sarkar noted Hurd's involvement in the CSPP.

"I think he understands how important policy is to the companies as well."

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Washington Technology.

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