Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blockbuster Shareholders Now Have Hope

Finally, Blockbuster (BBI) gives investors a reason to smile. In a Carl Icahn lead revolt, John Antioco was finally fired as chief executive officer and chairman of Blockbuster on Monday, ending a tenure that was highly criticized from the billionaire investor who owns 9.6% of the outstanding shares. Antioco's leadership was marked by company shares plummeting 82.9% over the past five years.

James Keyes, who will replace Antioco previously served as president and chief executive of 7-Eleven. Shares of the Blockbuster jumped 3.5%, or 15 cents, to close at $4.46 on the news. Said Icahn, "Jim is results-oriented, strategic and able to identify practical, yet highly creative solutions to complicated business problems,"

In an apparent change to Antioco's reluctance to close stores, Keyes said "as the technology continues to evolve it will be my job to have Blockbuster front and center as a player in those areas of technology".

Under Keyes' leadership as president and CEO of 7-Eleven from 2000 to 2005, the company experienced record sales and profits and implemented new retail systems technology that improved product assortment decisions in every store. He also ushered in a new era for 7-Eleven through the introduction of a host of new electronic services, which helped the convenience-store chain become as well known for its cutting-edge use of technology as for Slurpees®. Additionally, he collaborated with manufacturers across all merchandise categories to develop new products, enabling the company to introduce as many as 50 new items each week in advance of the competition. When Keyes retired upon the sale of the company in 2005, 7-Eleven had produced 36 consecutive quarters of same-store sales increases and had some 6,000 franchised and company-owned stores in the U.S. and Canada with 30,000 stores worldwide.

This is a move that could really pay off for shareholders. If nothing else, he cannot screw things up there any more than they are now. For under $5 a share, it just might be worth taking a gander. I want to see what Keyes will do, I want to see more that 290 stores closed this year. Double it and I become a buyer.

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