In one of the more shortsighted movements in recent stock history, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) bounced back after its blood draining day on Wednesday.
That is just wrong.
Granted: the stock was only up .20%. But any sort of immediate bounce back - even of the reflexive dead cat variety - is, considering, utterly misplaced.
When it comes to trouble, HP is into the deep.
That is what we learned on Wednesday and it should have a lasting impact on the price of the stock.
In a highly anticipated event, Meg Whitman spoke and a Bloomberg headline said it all:
"Hewlett-Packard Looks Set to Print Lots of Red Ink."
Traders were expecting Whitman to unveil a detailed and viable comeback plan, but the Ebay (EBAY) CEO turned failed political candidate turned wanna-be turnaround artist, simply said that HP was on their backs.
Actually, forget backs. Whitman got busy mixing metaphors about the seriousness of HP's plight. She said, alternately, "There are no silver bullets to solve our challenges," and, "It is going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like."
Backs, bullets or ships, here's the deal: Wall Street was expecting adjusted earnings of $4.17 a share for 2013, but Whitman cut expectations to ribbons, in a range of $3.40 to $3.60. Too many facets of HP's business is troubled to count and any plan to turn this leaky ocean liner seemed vague, wooley and reliant far too much on luck.
The stock hit a 10-year low and the floor-not the sky-seemed the limit. Traders were finally talking about what they should have acknowledged quite some time ago: HP and Dell (DELL) might not make it.
It was Whitman, of all people, who essentially rang the death knell. Sure: she promised a shifting focus in business, the stability that has eluded the company in these chaotic last years and, if you can believe it, signs of life by 2015.
But that might just be too late. Three years in technology is an eternity. Apple (AAPL), Oracle (ORCL) and IBM (IBM) already have a head start (and that's putting it mildly). Now they have three more years to pick HP's carcass.
Wednesday's news was bad, really bad. It should not have been forgiven in any form by Thursday, which is why today, all told, we're going against the grain and suggesting selling HP.
A note on performance: Each Friday, we'll take a look back at my last five trading suggestions when there have been two days to determine whether I was a "hero" or a "goat." Here's a look at this week's last five.
On Nike (NKE): a hero. On Nokia (NOK): a goat. On Apple : a goat. On Netflix (NFLX), the first time: a goat. And on Netflix the second time: a goat. That marks a bad week, after a good week, but remember -- as any trader worth his or her salt knows, all that matters in the end is that your good trades outweigh your bad. We'll keep count as we go on.