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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Hewlett Packard: Curse of the C-suite

Nir Kossovsky - Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It would be difficult to top the language of the Silicon Valley Mercury News. “In a stunning plot twist in the long-running Silicon Valley soap opera that is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Mark Hurd resigned as CEO of the Palo Alto tech giant after an investigation into a sexual-harassment claim.” While a company "investigation determined there was no violation of HP's sexual harassment policy, the probe concluded Hurd filed false expense reports to conceal his relationship with the woman. Blame it on whatever is in the water cooler servicing the C-suite.

The Steel City Re Corporate Reputation Index indicates the event was material. To quote an HP employee website, “The performance of a leader must be measured -- and rewarded -- based on more than the numbers. Integrity matters. Trust matters. We're talking about "violations of HP's Standards of Business Conduct" by the man who held ultimate responsibility for corporate conduct.”

HP began the period with a reputation ranking in the 95th percentile and exhibited little volatility (EWMA=0.014) until the events of the recent past. At this writing, the company’s reputation index has drifted down to the 84th percentile to the benefit of both Fugitsu Ltd (OTC:FJTSY) and Lenovo Group Ltd. (OTC:LNVGY), and further distancing itself from the 22-company Computer Processing Hardware sector leader, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Economically, HP is currently underperforming the median of this sector by 27.53%, but this is largely legacy effect from having both outperformed most of the sector, and having shown material resilience over the past five years. However, the future is not promising. The sector, as a whole, is in decline with the median reputation ranking relative to the whole market drifting from the low 40th percentile to the high teens over the trailing twelve months. Thus HP’s reputation slippage at this juncture does not bode well for teh company's future economic returns.

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