With rumors of a corporate takeover by “activist investor” Carl Icahn in the works, many believe the best way to fix the company is to cut off its head and install a new board of directors.

It says something about the fortunes of Hewlett-Packard when the “best” financial news for the company this year is a vague rumor of a takeover effort by famed corporate raider Carl Icahn. After over a decade of acquisitions that never seemed to play out the way HP’s management hoped, the stock market is betting that the company is worth more broken up into pieces than continuing in its current ponderous form.

On Monday, rumors of an Icahn takeover drove the company’s stock up more than four percent; its value is up six percent as of noon today. More than anything, the response by the market to the Icahn rumors are a vote of no confidence in the direction CEO Meg Whitman and the company’s board are steering HP.

When Whitman took over as CEO last October, I suggested that the best path for the future of HP’s PC division was to spin it off and give someone else a chance to manage it. But now, it’s questionable whether breaking apart the company would get any more value out of it, other than freeing up HP’s Personal Systems Group to swim clear of the wreckage. As they stand now, few of the other units could survive independently after being dependent on the teat of HP’s printer ink for so long.

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