Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HP) should break itself up, separating its division that sells printers and personal computers from the one that caters to businesses, UBS AG analysts wrote in a research report Monday.

The company would be worth more than $20 a share if its businesses operated independently, the analysts wrote, compared with the $14.73 closing price on Oct. 5.

HP’s stock price has fallen so much that the company also could be vulnerable to a takeover attempt by a rival, although Milunovich believes that is unlikely to happen because the most likely suitors – Oracle Corp. and IBM Corp. – already sell many of the same products and services that HP does.

“HP, with its fully developed enterprise and consumer businesses, should split up in order to realize greater value,” wrote the analysts led by Steven Milunovich, who have a sell rating on Hewlett-Packard.

Hewlett-Packard dropped 13 percent on Oct. 3 after forecasting profit for next year that missed analysts’ predictions, and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman said the company won’t quickly rebound from the slump that has cut sales for four straight quarters. Whitman has said that she won’t spin off the PC business, a move contemplated by her predecessor, Leo Apotheker.

“No matter how you look at it we are confident that HP is stronger together than apart,” Michael Thacker, a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard, said in a statement. “The company’s operations across business units are deeply integrated and our customers have told us that they want One HP.”

The company may need to reconsider that stance and break itself up, “prompted by activists or private equity,” according to UBS.

If HP doesn’t pursue a spin-off, Milunovich expects a leveraged buyout specialist or a group of activist investors will accumulate large stakes in the company to try to pressure management and the board to dismantle the business.

“We don’t think Whitman has two years to show substantial progress,” Milunovich wrote. “With money burning holes in the pockets of private equity funds and HP’s problems now more transparent to investors, we would not be surprised to see someone attempt to unlock value.”

‘Free’ Businesses

CEO for a year, Whitman has been trying to revive growth after years of management upheaval, shifts in strategy and late entry to key markets like tablet computers.

At the company’s current market capitalization, investors are essentially “getting the PC and printer businesses for free,” Milunovich wrote.

Hewlett-Packard, the largest maker of printers and PCs, will earn $3.40 to $3.60 a share, excluding costs, for the 2013 fiscal year, the Palo Alto, California-based company said at the Oct. 3 presentation. Analysts on average had estimated profit of $4.16 a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Hewlett-Packard slipped 1.1 percent to $14.57 at 3:06 p.m. in New York. The shares had lost 43 percent of their value this year through Oct. 5.

(Bloomberg and The AP contributed to this report.)