It's been nearly 13 years since General Motors' executive ranks were overhauled by the boardroom revolt that put Jack Smith in the driver's seat.
But two weeks ago, GM sent a financial shock wave through Wall Street by slashing its earnings forecast for this year. The bleak estimate turned up the seat heater under Smith's hand-picked successor, CEO Rick Wagoner.
Some experts are pondering Wagoner's leadership: John Rutledge, RealMoney.com: "GM has been run by the bean counters for the last 40 years. The result has been a lot of good financial things along the way (GMAC, vendor outsourcing, etc.), a few excellent adventures (Hughes, EDS), and products that do not measure up to the competitors that have passed them by." Doron Levin, Bloomberg News: "Wagoner's leadership and tenure are on the line. His U.S. marketing strategy since becoming chief executive in 2000 has failed. Unless Wagoner can get the union to join any major cost-cutting effort, the board of directors might question whether he is the right person to be leading the company." Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press: "Five years ago, when Rick Wagoner became president and chief executive of General Motors, he said he hoped the world's largest automaker would soon see its U.S. market share top 30 percent and annual revenue grow by as much as 8 percent. Instead, though quality and productivity have risen, Wagoner's term has been marked by eroding U.S. market share (27.5 percent so far this year) and, of late, disappointing automotive earnings. Some of the world's top executives have lost their jobs over less." David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., quoted by the Associated Press: "I would be very, very surprised if the board chose to beat up management. That would be a really basic mistake. Where do you go from there?"
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