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Compaq Ousts Eckhard Pfeiffer

Less than a week after hosting thousands of large customers and business partners in Houston at Compaq Computer Corp.'s Innovate Forum conference, Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer abruptly resigned under pressure from Compaq's board of directors. Also resigning under board pressure was senior vice president and chief financial officer Earl Mason.

Pfeiffer's and Mason's ouster follows an eerie similarity to the sudden departure of Inprise Corp. CEO Del Yocum and Inprise chief financial officer Kathleen Fisher. Both companies are now predicting first-quarter financial results that will be considerably below stock analysts' expectations.

An interim office of the chief executive was formed on the departure of Pfeiffer, and is staffed by chairman Benjamin Rosen and directors and vice chairmen Frank Doyle and Robert Enloe. A founder of Compaq, Rosen is noted for the 1981 sacking of Pfeiffer's predecessor and another founder of Compaq, Rod Canion.

Ben Wells, Compaq treasurer, is currently the acting CFO.

The most recent round of troubles for Pfeiffer became evident when the company shocked the investment community with disappointing preliminary results on April 9. The preliminary results stated the company expects to report a profit of about 15 cents per share. Previous expectations were for the company to produce a profit of 31 cents per share. In the wake of the preliminary results release, stock prices took a hit as investors drove shares down to below $25 per share, less than half of the company's 52-week high -- which occurred only 3 months earlier. Even with the announcement of the resignations, stock prices remained below $25 per share. -- Al Gillen

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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