Honeywell International brought back Lawrence Bossidy as CEO on July 3, the same day that the European Commission blocked General Electric's $45 billion buyout of the troubled aerospace conglomerate on anticompetitive grounds.
There's no question that Honeywell needs the 66-year-old, who retired just 15 months ago. The company has faced plummeting earnings, falling orders, and a life-threatening brain drain in the eight months since now-ousted CEO Michael Bonsignore inked the GE deal. A hard-nosed manager out of the GE mold--he was a vice-chairman there until 1991--Bossidy is likely to continue the big job cuts that Honeywell started this year under GE's direction.
But job No. 1 for the legendary cost-cutter is hammering together the warring cultures of Bossidy's AlliedSignal and Bonsignore's Honeywell, which themselves merged only in December, 1999. With earnings expected to drop as much as 27% this year, investors aren't likely to let Bossidy play savior for long before they start agitating for a sale. Those talking heads on TV's investment shows will soon have one more topic to discuss: conflicts of interest. The enforcement arm of the National Association of Securities Dealers on July 2 issued proposed rules that would require analysts to disclose their own and their brokerage firms' interests in stocks they're recommending.
Under the rule, likely to take effect this fall, analysts would have to tell whether they own the stock that they're commending, personally or in accounts they manage; whether their firm owns 5% or more of the company's shares; and whether the recommended company has hired their firm to do investment banking in the past year. The NASD hopes the Securities & Exchange Commission will subject fund managers, who aren't governed by NASD, to similar rules. After 14 months of haggling with antitrust regulators, UAL (UAL) threw in the towel on its proposed takeover of No. 6 carrier US Airways. The issue that did in the deal was the same one critics pointed to from the start: Even by selling off assets at Reagan National Airport, the combined airline would have too much market share along the Washington-Boston corridor. UAL promises it now will focus on restoring better service at its United Airlines unit and returning to profitability. The going will be tougher for US Airways, which has warned it likely would fail without a takeover. Execs at giant chipmaker Intel (INTC) say they see signs that semiconductor sales have bottomed, but the rest of the industry isn't breaking out the champagne. The Semiconductor Industry Assn. reported on July 2 that global chip sales tumbled 7.3% in May from the previous month and 5.9% even when adjusted for typical seasonal patterns. Worse, the report confirmed that weakness in info-tech spending has spread worldwide. With chip sales of $12.7 billion in May sharply below April's poor showing of $13.7 billion and off 20% from a year ago, solid recovery looks a long way off. Sara Lee (SLE) is moving into a new aisle in grocery stores. The food and apparel giant said July 2 it will pay $2.8 billion to acquire Earthgrains, a big maker of fresh and refrigerated breads, rolls, and buns. The $40.25-per-share cash deal also marks a new course for Sara Lee CEO Steven McMillan, who has been selling or spinning off operations since he took charge a year ago. The new bakery unit will be run by Earthgrains Chairman and CEO Barry Beracha and have $3.4 billion in annual sales. For all the dot-com carnage, the one business that seemed impervious was Internet security. The thinking: Corporate customers might slash other expenses, but wouldn't cut security and leave themselves exposed to hackers. Now, even the security companies are vulnerable. On July 2, Atlanta-based Internet Security Systems warned that last-minute contract cancellations would cause it to miss its second-quarter earnings targets--and could even snap its string of 11 profitable quarters. The next day, Check Point Software Technologies (CHKP) warned that its second-quarter revenues would be below expectations, though it expects profits to be on track. Check Point's stock tumbled 13%, to $44.55, while shares of Internet Security Systems nosedived--down 40%, to $29.99. -- Apple Computer will suspend production of the Power Mac G4 Cube.
-- TMP, Monster.com's parent, agreed to buy rival job-search Web site HotJobs.com.
-- BroadVision said its second-quarter loss would be twice as large as expected and that its CFO is resigning. Qualcomm (QCOM) investors rejoiced following news that the wireless-technology company had expanded its relationship with mobile-phone giant Nokia. Financial details weren't disclosed, but the new deal is expected to generate a big windfall from short-term licensing fees and long-term royalty payments. Qualcomm shares jumped 10%, to $63.87, on July 3.