Hewlett-Packard Co. debt is the riskiest in a decade relative to Dell Inc. as Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman struggles to transform the world's largest computer maker in an age of tablets and smartphones.

The cost to insure Hewlett-Packard bonds with credit-default swaps grew to 54.9 basis points more than its largest rival on Oct. 3 after being cheaper a year ago. The gap grew 15 points as Whitman said income would be below analyst estimates and that her company lacked "competitive focus." Moody's Investors Service said yesterday it may downgrade the firm.

Hewlett-Packard is suffering from falling sales of computers and printers and a debt load that's climbed above the industry average this year. A "deteriorating outlook" kept the company from using savings to fund investment in businesses such as security, according to an analyst presentation.

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