Harman CEO Says It’s Good That Jeep Hack Raised Security Issues

Harman International Industries Inc., the maker of the audio system in the Jeep Cherokee that was remotely hacked, said the incident has helped by making people aware of concerns that connected cars need to address.

“Five years ago no one could have seen the cybersecruity threats we see today,” Chief Executive Officer Dinesh Paliwal said Thursday in New York at a meeting with investors. “But we’re not going to be scared by some hacking experiment. It’s good that this experiment is bringing light to the issues that connectivity in the car can have.”

The company has come under scrutiny since Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV last month recalled about 1.4 million vehicles to update radio software after the Jeep hack. U.S. regulators asked Harman for information, saying 2.8 million Harman infotainment systems may be affected. Paliwal has said the software flaw is unique to Fiat Chrysler and isn’t in systems it supplies to other automakers.

Harman in March acquired Redbend Ltd., a move Harman executives said will help improve security in its infotainment systems. Redbend provides software management technology for connected devices.

“Without connected safety, the connected car makes little sense,” said Phil Eyler, president of the Harman’s infotainment division. “We’ve always been pushing toward a safer system, so we’re going to play a role in developing more safety in the car.”

Harman on Thursday also forecast earnings per share of $6.50, excluding some items, for its fiscal year that began in July. That fell short of the $6.62 average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company’s shares slid 6.6 percent to $110.22 at 3:01 p.m. in New York after declining as much as 7.5 percent, the most intraday since April 30. The stock gained 11 percent to $118.01 this year through Wednesday, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2 percent.

Eight analysts rate the stock as buy, three as hold and one as sell, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average 12-month price target is $132.

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