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CA faces executive exodus
by Cheryl Meyer
Updated 06:24 PM EST, May-15-2006


  Robert Davis

CA Inc. said Monday, May 15, that chief financial officer Robert Davis will leave the company, making him the third senior executive in less than a month to leave the ailing software giant.

Davis, a key member of the company's mergers-and-acquisitions team, will exit CA by "mutual agreement," the Islandia, N.Y., company said. Replacing him as CFO is Robert Cirabisi, senior vice president and corporate controller.

The announcement follows last week's notice that chief technology officer Mark Barrenechea would leave to join private equity firm Garnett & Helfrich Capital. In April CA said former chief operations officer Jeff Clarke would depart to become president and CEO of the Travel Distribution Services division of Cendant Corp.

Analysts who follow CA expressed surprise at the latest executive shuffle. "It does kind of beg the question: Was this more of Bob Davis' volition or of the company's volition"? asked Gregg Moskowitz, senior research analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group LLP in New York.

CA brought Davis, Barrenechea and Clarke in over the past two years, along with CEO and president John Swainson, to revive the company after several years of accounting scandals and management turmoil. Central to that strategy has been to return CA to using acquisitions to buoy growth. The company has completed 12 deals worth $1.7 billion in the past 15 months, with the latest purchase in April when it bought Cybermation Inc., a Markham, Ontario, provider of job-scheduling software, for $75 million in cash.

CA spokesman Dan Kaferle denied that the executive departures are related or reflect any company effort to clean house. He said new COO Michael Christenson is now focused on M&A, as is senior vice president of strategic finance Marc Stoll, while adding that CA will slow its dealmaking this year. "Originally we were buying companies that broadened and filled technology gaps in our portfolio," he said, "but we're not going to continue at the same rate that we did last year."

Some CA followers dismiss the company's contention that the management turnover is unrelated to growing investor sentiment that CA is on the wrong track. "Even if the specific details are different for each case, you can't just say it's a coincidence," said Gary Lutin, an investment banker at Lutin & Co. and manager of an online public stockholder forum. "Either the board's been hiring people who really aren't qualified or the board hasn't been giving them the authority they need to clean up the old mess and do their jobs."

And while the exit of Clarke and Barrenechea was no big surprise, some investors expressed concern at the abrupt departure of Davis, who joined CA only 14 months ago, and at the company's sketchy explanation for it.

Kim Caughey, an investment analyst at Pittsburgh-based Fort Pitt Capital Group, a CA stakeholder, said she was "alarmed." She also suggested CA's lackluster sales could account for the company's management shake-up. "Although we do not see exactly the reasons driving the quick departures of the three C-level executives, we believe that the lackluster results in new bookings might be a reason. As a shareholder, we would like to see increased bookings, signifying that CA is able to extend its reach within the existing customer base, as well as adding to the customer base."

CA recently slashed its fourth-quarter profit forecast, saying its revenue guidance will miss initial expectations. Total revenue for the March quarter will range from $940 million to $950 million, compared with guidance of $975 million to $1 billion. CA attributed the shortfall to the company's sudden transition to a new accounting model for newly acquired companies.

The sales dip would signify the second consecutive quarter in which the company has disappointed Wall Street. CA's main problem is sluggish organic growth, which is stifling the company's stock, Moskowitz said. "CA is still having the same old problems of how do you successfully diversify their business beyond your current portfolio," he said.

CA shares fell 3.7% to $23.51, down from a 52-week high of $29.71.

CA has struggled to regain its balance following an investigation in 2002 into its financial statements. In late April, former CEO Sanjay Kumar and Stephen Richards, CA's former top salesman, pleaded guilty to eight counts of securities fraud and obstruction of justice in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y. Shareholders have also filed multiple lawsuits and resolutions against the company, with grievances ranging from the company's bylaws to its board directors.

"There are a lot of fundamental issues that this company is going to work through," Moskowitz said. "But make no mistake, that will take time."

ęCopyright 2006, The Deal, LLC. All rights reserved.


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