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AMD's CEO doesn't have Intel to kick around anymore

Wall Street measures Ruiz's head

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Ruiz deserves some credit for not turning to the Intel excuse during one of AMD's darker hours. No one wants to hear an underdog whine.

But was the “channel mix did us in” really the right refrain?

AMD has spent the last four years adjusting to the new OEM-driven business model. You'll recall that IBM, HP, Sun and Dell didn't hop on board overnight. Instead, each vendor made its way to AMD in a long, drawn out fashion, giving AMD plenty of time to digest their business.

In addition, AMD has spent the past two years bragging about the success of its channel programs. Have a look for yourself. The chip maker even crafted a home in Second Life and developed virtual reality style presentation software for touching the channel crowd – money well spent, as you can tell.

But here's Ruiz in April of 2007 talking about how AMD has struggled to manage “this more complex world” and how “the way we manage accounts will be different” - a change meant to reflect the channel to OEM shift.

You'd think it would be easier to manage things with sales off by 38 per cent rather than at Opteron's peak, no?

It could be the case that the ATI acquisition, AMD's reluctance to ship a non-native four-core version of Opteron and a general resting on laurels are more to blame for the first quarter miss than a channel issue. And, of course, a resurgent Intel hasn't helped matters either. But, as mentioned, AMD only likes to blame Intel for its problems when things are going well. (Funny that – Ed)

Wall Street became so infatuated with AMD during the company's run-up that the analysts appear reluctant to put any pressure at all on Ruiz now. Perhaps they're all hoping that the four-core Barcelona, due out at mid-year, will restore the natural order and send AMD's shares sky high again.

From where we sit, Ruiz has failed to demonstrate the competitive fire needed to combat an inspired Intel. The CEO's confidants might disagree with this appraisal, but we're in WYSIWYG mode.

Ruiz's anti-trust rants used to fuel the troops and gave the executive a Jerry Sanders type edge. Now, we're left with a CEO that bickers over channel minutiae, while claiming he can't wait to pursue an “asset light” model and learn things from partners. His Second Life avatar chews on similar offal.

All Fiorina and Rollins did to get canned was present lower than expected profits. A $600m loss doesn't compare to those track records terribly well. ®

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