HP shares down after Whitman CEO appointment

NEW YORK (AP) ? Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. sank toward a six-year low in premarket trading Friday after the company said former eBay CEO Meg Whitman will replace Leo Apotheker at the head of HP.

The stock was down 42 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $22.38 in premarket trading as broader stock-index futures also pointed down. HP shares hit a six-year low of $22.13 on Sept. 12.

HP made the announcement late Thursday, but the news leaked out ahead of time. Chairman Ray Lane said Apotheker was ousted because of the company’s poor performance, and some important strategic shifts that were poorly communicated.

Apotheker had been on the job just 11 months.

Analysts have mixed feelings about Whitman, with many noting that her experience lies with a consumer-oriented dot-com.

“While we believe Meg has proven to be a very capable manager leading eBay from a start-up into a household name and one of the largest internet companies, there will be plenty of scrutiny given her lack of experience in the enterprise business,” Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu wrote.

Wall Street is now looking for clarity on whether the big change Apotheker announced ? the plan to spin off or sell the PC business ? is still on track.

“We would assume that most of this direction was the desire of the board when they hired Leo, so it’s unclear if they wish to change this current strategy, or just change the messenger,” wrote Louis Miscioscia at Collins Stewart.