Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ann Mulcahy "Turnaround Queen?"

Xerox's former CEO, Ann Mulcahy, has been a guest-host on today's CNBC morning program. As she arrived on the set, the talker at the bottom of the screen proclaimed her the "turnaround queen."

Really? I don't see it.

I didn't see it when I wrote this post last week concerning her reportedly being in the running to replace Larry Summers. In that post, I wrote,

"Mulcahy became CEO of Xerox on 1 August, 2001.

After a smartly-rising performance from 1990-1999, Xerox's share price deflated, along with that of many other technology firms, when the tech bubble burst in 2000. By 2001, the company's stock price had begun to recover, but has basically flat-lined over the period of Mulcahy's management. The S&P did roughly the same.

How does this make Mulcahy some sort of management maven? And why does anyone even bother with Xerox anymore? It's been a technology also-ran for at least a decade."

Turnaround? I'm not seeing it.

And, as I mentioned, Xerox has not been a 'high tech' firm for decades.

C'mon, in a world of iPads and such, copiers are high tech?

The co-anchors have been nearly genuflecting to Mulcahy all morning, and for what? Yes, she comes across as intelligent, poised and reserved. Probably competent at running a has-been technology firm which had fallen on very hard times. Not a rocket scientist, but not an idiot, either.

Want to see a real eye-opening graphic? How about the nearby chart comparing Xerox's and GE's stock prices since about 1975?
GE went up like a rocket until 2001, when Welch left, while Xerox was flat for a decade before rising during the 1990s, along with the US economy. But, since 2001, when both Immelt and Mulcahy became CEOs of their respective companies (within about a month of each other), Xerox has actually marginally outperformed GE. Mulcahy managed to keep Xerox flat, while Immelt destroyed value at GE.

Now, if Mulcahy is the "turnaround queen" for this performance at Xerox, what does that make Immelt's comparatively poorer performance at GE? And since NBC was sold to Comcast, will CNBC finally tell the truth about Immelt's disastrous reign at their former parent?

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