August 18, 2005

How Soon We Forgive and Forget

Is it just me or are investors and analysts trigger-happy when it comes to forgiving so-called blue chip companies for their previous transgressions. Look at the fawning coverage given to Nortel Networks and Hewlett-Packard for their quarterly results recently. It's like investors have already forgotten Nortel's accounting scandal and HP's recent management changes. Instead, they look at results that show some year-over-year improvements, and decide both companies are definitely headed for better days. BusinessWeek and Silicon Valley Today were over all the work done by new HP CEO Mark Hurd, who has scored points with analysts since coming aboard four months ago by focusing on improving operations rather than the grandiose strategic visions of his predecessor, Carly Fiorina, who apparently still has bright job prospects according to the Wall Street Journal. Bill Cara provides some sober perspective on how HP is really doing. Nortel, meanwhile, still appears to be basking in its second quarter results, which weren't nearly as stellar if you drill down a little bit into the numbers. Analysts and investors, however, seem to be focused on good news rather than issues such as strategic and technology challenges and money-losing contracts in India. The way investors are behaving suggests they're far too eager to pounce on good news and too anxious to forget about recent history.

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