Microsoft shares closed up 1.5 percent today, trading at $33.27.
Is that due to this report in AllThingsD saying that former Boeing Commercial Airplanes and current Ford CEO Alan Mulally is now the top contender to succeed outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer?
Ballmer announced last month that he would be retiring within 12 months, once his successor has been chosen.
Speculation — and oddsmaking — began immediately, with then-Nokia CEO Stephen Elop topping the list of possible successors. That speculation gained a bit of fire when Microsoft acquired Nokia’s handset business and announced Elop would be returning to Microsoft to head its hardware division.
Mulally, meanwhile, had said that he was focused on staying at Ford.
But now apparently, Mulally has “become more amenable to the idea,” the AllThingsD report says, citing people with knowledge of the situation.
Elop remains a top contender, though, as does Microsoft exec and former Skype CEO Tony Bates, and former Microsoft exec and Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz, according to the report.
Veteran Microsoft analyst Rick Sherlund said in a note to investors this morning that he has been positive on Microsoft’s stock because of anticipated changes in corporate governance, including Microsoft’s agreement to give activist investor ValueAct a seat on the board and Ballmer’s decision to retire and leave the seat to a new CEO — whoever that may be.
“The stock has not benefited as much as expected yet largely because of the unpopular Nokia acquisition,” Sherlund wrote in his note. “A focus on fundamentals is likely more negative while a focus on changes in governance is likely positive. Fundamentals may be more in the spotlight by the October 24th [fiscal first quarter] earnings call and updated guidance, while ongoing news of the new CEO search may be more positive.”