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Quarterly Quotes to make you laugh and cry

16 October 2008 | By Mark Osborne | Editor's Blog

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Winston ChurchillA long time ago I thought it would be a good - perhaps funny-ish - blog idea to regularly post some good quotes from semiconductor executives. The problem was there weren’t any! Well, there were some occasionally, but not enough of them to string together to make any sense.

But then, as 3Q08 conference call time is upon us, there have already been a few good ones, just at a time when it’s all doom and gloom! Perhaps there is some humour still around after all and certainly some cynical but tongue-in-cheek banter out there.

First of those was Paul Otellini’s comment in response to a question regarding his thoughts on the recent news that AMD has spun off its manufacturing arm and whether this changes the competitive landscape for Intel.

Carefully noting in his response that someone still has to invest in fabs and the process technology to remain competitive, Otellini finished his comments on this point:

“So the food chain really hasn’t changed in terms of the ecosystem except that there’s one more person perhaps looking for a return in the equation.”

A clever put-down and so very true.

Another executive that would regularly grace a quarterly quote blog is Rick Hill of Novellus Systems. I must admit that some of his phrases go over my head as he seems to draw synergies from Texas farming folk at times, but needless to say they tend to be very funny all the same.

Rick didn’t disappoint in this quarter's conference call; saving the Texas links, he still had one in him in respect to the dire capital spending situation. In discussing equipment bookings for the company in his ‘prepared’ commentary he said:

“On a bookings front, all our regions are down. On a customer basis, there remain only three with the economic power to buy and less than three with the will to buy”

I think Rick has summed things up very well and makes me laugh every time I re-read it.

Bertrand Cambou of Spansion was in fighting talk the other day, as well he needs to be as the stock price is below $1 and losses increased in the quarter. On explaining the cost reduction strategies the company has put in place and is currently executing, Bertrand was fired up all through the conference call and this quote below should be read in the context of a battle cry:

“We are taking actions. You are going to see a significant piece of this $10 is going to be R&D and going forward this is an area that you can assume here that we like to be at the $100 million ladder or so for R&D costs in Q4 and then to go way sub $400 next year; way sub $400. The train has left. We are now in an efficiency mode and we’re not going to compromise our leadership position.”

Bertrand reminded me of Winston Churchill for a moment when he famously said ‘we will fight them on beaches’ referring to the Germans during WWII.

However, in a more somber moment of the conference call, Dario Sacomani, Spansion’s CFO responded to a question regarding available lines of credit open to the company, something the analysts are now asking in many of the calls this quarter. Dario said the following:

“The credit crisis obviously affects everybody, but the truth is even before the credit crisis at single B there wasn’t a lot of credit available to us anyway. Since there really is no credible financing sources for alternatives given our stock price and yield rates on our bonds, we’re really focused more on the fundamentals to start with...”

Ouch! And good luck.

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