Hewlett Packard Shares Pounded on $8.8 Billion Charge From Autonomy Acquisition

Meg Whitman Hewlett Packard Autonomy

Shares of Hewlett-Packard took a lashing after saying that the company took a whopping $8.8 billion accounting charge from what H-P CEO Meg Whitman called “serious accounting improprieties” by British software company Autonomy that H-P acquired last year for $9.7 billion. The charges eliminated any profits at H-P as the company reported a net loss of $6.85 billion, or $3.49 per share, in its fiscal fourth quarter. In the same quarter last year, H-P reported net income of $239 million, or 12 cents per share.

In Q3 fiscal 2012, H-P took a loss of $8.86 billion on the back of another acquisition charge related to buying Electronic Data Systems for $13 billion in 2009. Two quarters…nearly $16 billion in net losses.

Excluding the charges, H-P earned $1.16 per share, ahead of analyst predictions of $1.14 per share. Revenue of $30.0 billion for the quarter was shy of Wall Street predictions of $30.5 billion.

Whitman, who was on the board who approved the Autonomy acquisition before then-CEO Leo Apatheker stepped-down and Whitman assumed the CEO role, said she “regrets voting for the deal” in an interview with CNBC. Strategy chief Shane Robinson, another exec who could be held responsible for the acquisition, also has left H-P since. Whitman was careful not to use the word “fraud,” but it was clear that she felt Autonomy fleeced H-P with its creative accounting, despite audits being conducted by blue chip accounting firms as part of due diligence before the acquisition. A full investigation has been launched with the SEC now getting involved.

Shares of HPQ hit a ten-year low in morning trading on Tuesday with prints of $11.35. With the afternoon session underway, shares have crept back up near $12 each, but are still down more than 11 percent on the day.

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Stock Quote and News:

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