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Dell Searches for a Lift

Former airlines boss takes off with plenty of clouds in the immediate forecast

4:45 PM -- Instead of the new pilot many of its detractors have called for, Dell has added a CFO who used to run an airline. (See Dell Swaps CFOs.)

Dell's former CFO James Schneider has left amid accounting and regulatory problems at the company. His replacement is Don Carty, former CEO of American Airlines. Carty has been on Dell's board since 1992 and is chairman of its audit committee.

Although Dell says Schneider left voluntarily to become chairman of bank holding firm Frontier Bancshares, Wall Street analysts credit the company for making the change in an attempt to solve its accounting and regulatory woes. (See Dark Days at Dell.)

But the move also raises questions:

  • Are the financial problems worse than previously thought?
  • Is Carty too much of an insider to do any good?
  • Is Carty in fact the heir apparent to CEO Kevin Rollins, who has been under fire since Dell's problems surfaced during the summer? (See Five More Years.)

Shawn Wu of American Technology Research calls the news mixed. "On the positive, we are pleased to see Dell take further steps in fixing its problems, this time with management changes surrounding its accounting irregularities," he wrote in a note to clients today.

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