(Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard CO <HPQ.N> has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> to help the company defend itself against possible activist investors who could push for change at the Silicon Valley company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

HP has felt vulnerable to possible activist investor pressure amid questions about the company's performance and strategic direction, WSJ cited the people as saying.

Last week, the company named former eBay Inc <EBAY.O> Chief Executive Meg Whitman its president and CEO, replacing the harshly criticized Leo Apotheker in an attempt to restore investor confidence.

Hewlett-Packard and Goldman Sachs spokespersons declined to comment.

(Reporting by Arpita Mukherjee in Bangalore; editing by Andre Grenon)