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HP's Hurd: Whatever you do, don't mention <i>her</i>

At iMeme conference, CEO sidesteps questions about how much his predecessor had to do with company's success.

Hewlett-Packard boss Mark Hurd was in a mood to take a victory lap, not reminisce about any contribution Carly Fiorina may have had to the company's stellar success.

Since Hurd joined the company during the second quarter of 2005, shares of HP stock have climbed from $18 to $47. So it is that this once little-known NCR executive has become the gold standard by which CEOs get measured.

True to form, Hurd didn't try to hog all the credit for the turnaround. Instead, he lavished praise on his HP underlings.

"The view that the company was in horrible shape at that time was overblown," said Hurd, speaking in San Francisco on Friday at the iMeme conference organized by Fortune magazine.

But when the lights came on and Hurd took questions from the audience, media consultant Sam Whitmore wanted to know how much credit the CEO would apportion to Fiorina, his immediate predecessor.

Hurd begged off, saying he doesn't "metric-ize." (Or at least that's what it sounded like. Truth be told, I don't know if that's even English.) Whitmore, the former editor in chief of PC Week, was having none of it and pressed Hurd for a straight answer.

"I don't think it's a relevant question," Hurd responded and changed the topic.

Maybe he would have had more to say if Whitmore had asked about pretexting.