Joseph Galli: Power Drain

Apr. 22 should have been a red-letter day for Black & Decker investors. The night before, the company announced earnings that beat forecasts by 26%. Why did B&D stock drop nearly 8% the next day? Because the company also said Joseph Galli, 41, head of its $3 billion power tool and accessories unit, had left. Galli, viewed as heir apparent to CEO Nolan Archibald, is credited with building B&D's prowess with new tools, particularly the popular DeWalt line. Sources close to B&D say Galli left over differences with Archibald on when he would get the top job. B&D said it had hired GE veteran Paul McBride to replace Galli.

News of Galli's exit stunned Wall Street. Says Salomon Smith Barney analyst David Dwyer: "I can't understand why the company couldn't come to a reconciliation to keep him." Archibald declined comment. Says Galli: "I'm exhilarated at the prospects I'm evaluating." Such as? Galli won't say. But Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Guy Zelman says, "Wherever Joe turns up, I'll be buying that stock." Stay tuned.