CEO on the hot seat: Howard Stringer, Sony
Stringer's streamlining efforts have been well received by investors, but a lot of his moves have to go right to justify the recent stock gain.
NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - At least he didn't sugarcoat it. Last year, when CEO Howard Stringer announced his restructuring plan for the beleaguered giant, he compared Sony's plight to that of the Russian army defending Moscow against Napoleon.
"To stay ahead of the invaders ... we must be Sony united and fight like Sony warriors," said the Welsh-born Stringer.
Sony was losing the television wars to Sharp, its Walkman line was being crushed by the Apple iPod, and Sony's bloated management made it hard to launch a counter-attack.
Stringer's solution: get out the ax. Last September he announced plans to shutter 11 production facilities slash 10,000 jobs -- 7 percent of Sony's global workforce -- and trim product lines to focus on core offerings.
Sony has much riding on the launch of the PlayStation 3.
There are a lot of moving pieces to Sony, which makes it a tough stock to forecast. With Sony (Research) ADR shares up more than 50 percent since November, the market obviously likes what Stringer is selling.
Still, with Sony now trading at 46 times trailing 12-month earnings, we're not sure why it's worth more than Apple at 42 times or Samsung at 15.