Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) just tanked as news is circulating that Alan Mulally will not be leaving Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) to replace Steve Ballmer as chief executive of the software giant. Bloomberg TV was hosting an interview with Mulally on the unveiling of the 50th anniversary model of the Mustang. Mulally said that he is staying at Ford, but our take is that he left the option open-ended on a longer-term basis. Speculation has been for quite some time that he would leave to replace Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft.
Reports were out Thursday morning that Alan Mulally was not planning to leave Ford. When asked to discuss his plan to remain through at least 2014, Mulally said to Bloomberg TV in an interview, “I love serving Ford and there is no change in the plan.”
24/7 Wall St. has had a controversial view that Alan Mulally should leave Ford due to the gains he has made, where the company stands and the controversy over whether he will run Microsoft. This public announcement likely solidifies that Mulally will be staying, but we would not put it past the media to read further into this later down the road as an open-ended tenure.
The long and short of the matter is that this likely leaves Stephen Elop as the lead candidate to be CEO of Microsoft. If not him, then another internal candidate now seems the most likely outcome. Microsoft has to act fast, and reports have circulated that the field of candidates is narrowing to a few choices.
Microsoft has been plagued by competitive forces from the likes of Steve Jobs and then Tim Cook, Sergey and Larry, Mark Zuckerberg and many others. The board may simply not have enough youth to deal with the market changes and trends that the next generation will be choosing for technology. As of now it is not really Windows.
Still, Microsoft shares were up almost 50% for 2013. Maybe much of the turnaround is already taking place. Nomura outlined how Microsoft shares could rise to $45 or even $50 ahead, but we would point out that the current share price dropped almost 3% to $37.90, and that is still above the Thomson Reuters consensus analyst price target of $36.42.
It looks like Alan Mulally is staying on at Ford.