HP’s Legal Problems Won’t Impact Retail

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New York – Hewlett-Packard’s legal trials and tribulations may be causing a headache for the company’s executives, but industry analysts do not expect the troubles to trickle down to the retail level.

HP CEO Mark Hurd said today he will hold a press conference on Sept. 22 to discuss the situation.

While the charges being leveled against members of HP’s board of directors and Hurd are serious, they are taking place at a level well above where consumers operate. Particularly since the situation does not involve the company misbehaving against its customers or retailers.

“It is at the same level as the [stock] options issues and SEC reporting issues, no direct or indirect impact in how the company treats me [the customer],” said Steve Baker, The NPD Group’s industry analysis VP.

Charles Smulders, Gartner’s Managing VP, Client Computing Group agreed.

“I don’t believe HP’s legal problems will have a material impact on retailer or consumer sentiment. What is important is that HP ensures that it doesn’t get distracted from its focus on execution by these matters,” he said.

HP has stated several times that it will not let these legal issues interfere with its business.

Keeping the two areas separate will not be easy as HP’s news over the past month has gone from bad to worse. Chairwoman Patricia Dunn admitted authorizing an investigation to discover which board member was leaking confidential HP information to the press. The investigation utilized private investigators who impersonated HP board members and reporters. The latest revelation has HP attempting to infiltrate the newsrooms of CNET and The Wall Street Journal, according to the Associated Press.

Criminal charges linked to these incidents are possible, said the California Attorney General’s Office.

Previously, the company said Mark Hurd will replace Patricia Dunn as head of the company’s board in January. The move stems from an inquiry that found the board used outside investigators to spy on board members to see if they were leaking information to the media. Dunn will retain her post until Jan. 18, when Hurd will take over.

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