Palo Alto, Calif.-Hewlett-Packard Co. has called off its planned $18 billion acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P.'s consulting operation. The news came as Hewlett-Packard announced unexpectedly poor fourth quarter earnings of 41 cents per share, markedly less than the 51 cents per share that many Wall Street brokerage analysts had expected. The planned PWC acquisition, which was announced in September and would have been the biggest acquisition ever of a consultancy by a technology company, had been received poorly from the get-go. Some industry watchers thought HP would have great difficulty digesting PWC, and assertions to the contrary from HP CEO Carly Fiorina did little to convince them otherwise. HP shares were hammered on Monday, trading in the low-to-mid $30s, off a 52-week high of $78.