The curious case of JDS Uniphase and its departing CEO

When Kevin Kennedy joined JDS Uniphase in September 2003, the company was a train wreck. It had fired thousands of employees. It had taken massive write offs stemming from a series of overpriced acquisitions. It was, in short, the poster child for the telecom disaster.

With the news this week that Kennedy is stepping down as CEO, it’s hard to know how to grade his work, or the state of JDSU.

On the plus side, JDSU took a daring stand to fight a class action shareholder lawsuit and won a rare court trial. Losing likely would have crippled, if not killed the company. Fighting it was daring, but smart in the end.

And the company’s revenues have slowly grown since Kennedy took the helm:

2003: $675.9 million.
2004: $635.9 million
2005: $712.2 million.
2006: $1.2 billion.
2007: $1.3968 billion
2008: $1.53 billion.

On the downside, the company has still not posted an annual profit under Kennedy, though the losses have shrunk. I’m guessing the credit crisis and economic implosion is not going to help with things there . And the stock price has never recovered. Even with a reverse split along the way, the trajectory over the past five years is down:

So, it’s a mixed bag, at best. The company is still alive. And has a hefty chunk of change in the bank, so it will likely be around for awhile. But even if it can continue to keep the lights on, it’s harder to know whether it’s a company that will ever really matter again.

 

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