Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Review of Tom Meredith's Citi Speech

Tom Meredith -- in somewhat of a warm-up for his meeting Friday morning with Financial Analysts -- spoke at Citi's Technology Conference today with many investors.

Although some analysts have tried to call the bottom for Motorola in the last few days and made an upgrade on the company, Motorola is still lagging Nokia for the last 5 days - to say nothing of the last year.

On the same day that Meredith chose to make his remarks, Apple announced an expanded version of its iPod and a cut in price for the iPhone.

Here are some observations on Meredith's remarks:

  • He seemed annoyed that Home and Networking only got 2 questions at the start of the session, and then was forced to focus on Mobile Devices. However, what do you expect, when you've chosen to divest other businesses and are left with a divisions that accounts for more than 50% of your revenue and has been reeling for 12 months?
  • He seemed to work hard at emphasizing that Mobile Devices will now become "boringly consistent" from here on out. This is good positioning, considering that Motorola is lacking a group of exciting mobile products now and in the near future.
  • "We may introduce touch-screens in the US." Even a CFO can learn to drop some product feature names which carry a little sizzle to try and excite investors.
  • Meredith conveys more authenticity than Zander about recognizing mistakes were made in the past. "It was our mistake. We know we were wrong and we admit it." He's clearly trying to do his part to get the bad news behind the company. If only acknowledging past mistakes could give the company a clean slate moving forward. Unfortunately, the turnaround will require much more than simply this.
  • Nervous laughter in response to the question about whether the board had had a vote of non-confidence for Ed Zander.
  • Motorola's Weighted Average Cost of Capital is 11 - 13%. "We need to exceed that Weighted Average Cost of Capital." Absolutely.
  • Appeared to suggest there would be more job cuts announced on Friday.
  • Why were there so few questions? It appeared to be a full house? Why are so many so investors detached from Motorola.
  • "Whenever a company lays off people, morale takes a hit. It's a symbol of management failure." How can a board member recognize that there have been management failures and yet no one in management has been held to account for this failure. The rank-and-file have had to take the hit for this failure so far. It's a symbolic problem for the company.
  • He suggested that Motorolans needed to "lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way" -- sounded a little ominous.

We will see what comes of Friday's discussion.

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