Friday, January 05, 2007


The WSJ’s „Heard on the Street” column discusses Home Depot (HD), saying that investors may soon discover that Bob Nardelli wasn't the only wrench in the works. Plenty of problems remain for the retailer, from a decline in home prices to vigorous competition from Lowe’s. Those twin issues are daunting enough, but Home Depot has a host of internal flaws that are hampering its ability to meet those challenges. The co in recent months has lost several execs, and the top ranks are generally lacking in much-needed retail experience. Home Depot's customer service is lackluster and its stores are still run by antiquated systems that too often leave shelves short of popular items. Getting on top of all these issues will take time. The departure of Mr. Nardelli was a quick fix, perhaps clearing the way for some needed changes. But restoring the retailer's stock price will be more of a long-term project for successor Frank Blake. And views differ over whether Mr. Blake is the right man for the job, considering his lack of retail experience. Many on Wall St. think the stock will fall back more, or, at best, remain at the current price for a while before it starts rising again. "The question is, 'How does the business perform from here?' " said Colin McGranahan, of Sanford C. Bernstein. "Say what you will about Bob Nardelli, but he was a hard worker and knew how to fix problems. That means there is no easy fix. There's no white rabbit." Mr. McGranahan is particularly pessimistic about any near-term rebound for Home Depot.

Barron’s Online “Inside Scoop” section reports that the Chmn of Rite Aid (RAD) headed to the checkout line as shares of the drugstore chain hit a 52w high. Robert Miller sold 300K shares for $1.7m. Miller now owns 12K Rite Aid common shares and options to purchase 9.55m shares. "I think Miller's sale now fits his own profile of garnering some compensation through the sale of stock," Ben Silverman, of, says.

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