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CA Shareholder Unwinds Stake

By Bill Snyder Senior Writer
11/14/2006 3:50 PM EST
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Updated from 2:28 p.m. EST

One of CA's (CA) largest shareholders has liquidated its entire stake in the troubled business software company.

Relational Investors, a fund known for pressuring the management of faltering businesses, had owned 29.3 million shares, or about 5.6% of CA's outstanding shares, at the end of the June quarter.

But by the end of the September quarter, the fund's holdings in CA were zero, according to fund filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In March, Ralph Whitworth, Relational's principal, said CA shares may be undervalued by 30% and he wanted CA to disclose more about its strategy for spending its cash flow and financing itself. "We've been patient, but we're disappointed with [CA's] progress," he said, during the Reuters Banking Summit in New York.

But the hoped-for recovery has been slow in coming.

In the July quarter, CA bettered Wall Street's subdued expectations, but the company's net income, weighed down by a 9% increase in spending, dropped roughly 63% year over year. Moreover, the company said that an 11% cut in the workforce -- plus a large buyback of shares -- would hurt profitability during the rest of the current fiscal year.

Three months later, CA posted a noticeably stronger quarter, but bookings and associated billings were lower than the company had expected. The company also said it was suspending the stock repurchase.

The bottom line: CA's shares have sunk 14% since Whitworth spoke out in mid-March. In recent trading on Tuesday, shares were off 41 cents, or 1.8%, to $22.90.

It seems likely that Relational's decision to dump the stock is a commentary on CA's prospects, but Whitworth could not immediately be reached for a comment and no one else at the fund was authorized to speak to the press.

CA has been unable to restore investor confidence in the wake of the $2 billion accounting fraud that led to the jailing of former CEO Sanjay Kumar and others.

Former sales chief Stephen Richards pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy, securities fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice, just two weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin. He was sentenced Tuesday to seven years behind bars.

Kumar, who pleaded guilty to the same crimes, was sentenced to 12 years in prison last month.



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