We have a confession. We love the open letters to management we find in the blogosophere. If corporate chieftains had a clue they would fire their high paid consultants and spend their time trolling the Internet for advice. For instance we found items that addressed quite well the issues facing two prominent companies in the news.
Chad Brand at the Peridot Capitalist has some advice for Microsoft (MSFT) in regards to their pursuit of an "iPod killer." Brand believes Microsoft's cash-cow brands Windows and Office are under assault and the pursuit of tertiary consumer electronics products will not make up for the potential loss in income from their core brands. In short, Microsoft needs to be pursuing innovative products, not me-too products:
Merely copying successful products that have already attracted scores of competition is not going to reinvigorate growth at Microsoft. They need to play offense, and by that I mean, develop new technologies and products. They should aim to be first to market, and force others to play defense by copying them.
For what it is worth, we are of the opinion that a break-up of Microsoft into two or three companies would go a long way in accomplishing the goals of accelerating innovation at the software behemoth.
Another company on the hot seat, Home Depot (HD) gets some sound (free) advice from Josh Peters at Morningstar.com. Home Depot shareholders have been unhappy with the compensation packages paid to management. Peters believes Home Depot should face facts and realize that they are no longer a growth company. In that regard they could make great strides with shareholders by radically increasing the dividend.
But the growing season has come and gone for Home Depot, and it's time for the harvest. When September rolls around, leaving corn in the field hoping for another foot or two of growth is not good logic. Strip off those cobs, fire up the grill and let all share in the fruits of your firm's labor. Unlike a ripe cornfield, a harvest of corporate earning power can go on and on. So give your shareholders a reason to stick with you–people who own your stock for the dividend will not bolt when you have a bumpy quarter. The yield-indifferent momentum types always do.
Both of these suggestions are somewhat radical, but in our opinion are quite sound. Outside strategic consultants are often paid to rubber-stamp the incumbent strategies put forth by management. How about firing up a RSS feed reader to get some second opinions?