David Dorman, the former captain and chief of AT&T (T), has come to Motorola (MOT) as Chairman. He was greeted with the handset, etc. company’s stock hitting a 52–week low at $8.97. The 52-week high is $19.68. Dorman’s first job will be to keep sharp objects away from big MOT shareholder Carl Icahn.
The market is already well aware of the problems at Motorola’s handset business. Its global market share has dropped from 22% just over two years ago to about 13% now. Nokia (NOK) and Samsung have better share and Sony Ericsson is gaining.
Last year, Motorola’s handset division lost over $1 billion on revenue of $19 billion. Unit sales may drop below 30 million for Q1, much lower than sales were running last year. The loss may balloon, making the operation worth very, very little.
It has begun to dawn on investors that Motorola’s home and mobility unit, which drove much of last year’s operating income, could have a bad year in 2008. Its products, including set-top boxes, may see slowing sales in a down economy.
Motorola could end up hitting on no cylinders this year. No way to welcome the new Chairman.
Douglas A. McIntyre