Management Turnover as Change Agent

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CEO Watch - Sir Howard Stringer, Sony

For the last number of weeks Sony SONY (NYSE) and its CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, have been in the news.  Most of the commentary has been about the impending reorganization of Sony’s electronics business Sir Howard hopes to get implemented.  The controversy surrounding the reorganization has focused on Stringer’s attempt to make changes in JapSir Howard Stringeran that would have a direct impact on Japanese employees who traditionally expect a job for life.  The Japanese have remained adamantly resistant to the proposed changes. The controversy has remained a major thorn in Stringer’s control.  Sony One Year Stock PerformanceNow comes news that Sony has forecast a whopping annual loss of nearly $3 billion.  According to Canada’s Gazette ”the loss would be Sony’s first annual loss  in 14 years”.  Could Stringer now find himself in the reorganization cross hairs? According to a story by Pavel Alpeyev and Junko Hayashi in Bloomberg,

Sony Corp. forecast a record 260 billion yen ($2.9 billion) full-year operating loss, almost four times analysts’ estimates, as the global recession cuts sales of televisions and cameras. 

… The outlook increases pressure on Chief Executive Officer Howard Stringer, 66, who is reorganizing the main electronics business after failing to meet his pledge to raise Sony’s operating profit margin to 5 percent. Recessions in Europe, Japan and the U.S. have cut consumer spending, while Sony lacks hit products that have powered profits at Apple Inc. and Nintendo Co.

While I expect Stringer to survive for now the dismal news, he needs to find a way for the company to come up with some product hits and to demonstrate to both employees and investors that he understands what’s needed for Sony to succeed going forward.  Keep a very close eye on what transpires at Sony for the next couple of months.  

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