Bausch & Lomb Board Taps Former CEO To Aid Company Turnaround

By BridgeNews The board of directors of eye care specialist Bausch & Lomb Inc. says Chief Executive William Carpenter needs to devote all his time to turning around the company and has appointed previous CEO and chairman and current director William Waltrip to take the chairman's duties off Carpenter's hands. The announcement came in conjunction with the Rochester, N.Y., firm's release of a second-quarter per-share profit of 13 cents, which missed First Call's consensus and represents an 82.4% drop-off from earnings the same period a year ago. The maker of contact lenses, lens-care products, pharmaceuticals, and high-tech equipment for cataract and refractive eye surgery continues to be plagued by poor performance from its older contact lens lines and a slump in demand for its refractive surgical group. Looking to stop the bleeding -- earnings per share has declined 82.4%, 71.4%, and 20.5% the past three quarters and the stock is down more than 40% from its 52-week high of $67.50 -- Bausch's board decided Carpenter, while still the right man for the job, couldn't have his attention divided. "This [change] will allow me to focus all of my time ensuring that expected operational improvements are achieved and timelines are met on key strategic growth initiatives," says Carpenter. As chairman, Waltrip will have primary responsibility for communicating with the investment community. However, it's clear he's also expected to be consulted by the company's management team. "The best thing we can do at this time to increase the value of Bausch & Lomb is to improve the company's operating performance," says Waltrip. "It makes sense right now for [Carpenter] to be completely focused on dealing with current operating issues." U.S. revenues in the second quarter declined 31% versus a year earlier. Lens-care products' decline of 26% for the period was due to greatly Bausch's unfavorable results in America.

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