Shares of Hewlett-Packard, the world's biggest computer company, rose slightly Thursday, a day after Standard & Poor's downgraded the company's credit two notches.
HP shares closed at around $28.22, up 27 cents Thursday as U.S. stock markets closed basically unchanged.
S&P Wednesday night chopped Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP's corporate credit rating and senior unsecured ratings to 'BBB' from 'A' which effectively increases its borrowing costs.
Meanwhile, IBM, HP's biggest rival, enjoys an A+ rating on its long-term debt from S&P. That means Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM can borrow more cheaply than HP.
HP reported fourth-quarter long-term debt had jumped 47 percent in the year ended Oct. 31, to $22.5 billion.
The bond agency, a part of McGraw-Hill, said the steps reflected "more aggressive financial policies," including leverage to acquire Britain's Autonomy for $10.2 billion as well as stock buybacks whose value exceeded HP's cash flow.
As well, S&P took note of September's management shakeup that ousted CEO Leo Apotheker and replaced him with Meg Whitman, making her the company's third CEO in 13 months. It took the company off its CreditWatch list, where it was placed when the Autonomy deal was announced.
"We have concerns that HP's inconsistent growth strategies and high levels of Board of Director and senior management turnover have elevated the level of operational and execution risk in the near term," the agency said.
HP representatives had no comment.
When the company announced fourth-quarter results Nov. 21, Whitman promised to deliver a comprehensive strategy update early next year. She and Executive Chairman Ray Lane, a former president of Oracle, already decided to keep the PC division, the world's largest, after Apotheker mulled selling it.
HP reported cash and investments exceeding $8.1 billion as of Oct. 31 and said it had spent $500 million on share buybacks during the fourth quarter. It also said long-term debt --- affected by the downgrades -- was $22.5 billion, compared with only $15.26 billion a year ago.
HP reported fourth-quarter net income dropped nearly 90 percent to $239 million, or 39 cents a share including one-time charges related to the TouchPad tablet withdrawal, while revenue eased to $32.1 billion to $33.3 billion.
HP's market capitalization is $56.2 billion.