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" After a pause, Swainson offered a curt four words: "I certainly hope so." He didn't elaborate.
Two years after Swainson joined CA, the longtime IBM (Charts) executive is still struggling to turn around what may have been, simply put, the most dysfunctional big corporation in America.
Since then Swainson has embarked on an energetic and comprehensive series of reforms - staking out a commitment to ethics, taking concrete steps to transform a sales culture that treated customers as adversaries and making more than a dozen strategic acquisitions.
But for CA, shoddy ethics have been replaced by bumbling execution.
"Obviously, you guys are working through a lot of issues here," one analyst asked.
"I' m just wondering: Is this next quarter the quarter we're going to see big improvement here?
The news was gloomy, with CA's most cited metric - cash flow from operations -down 98 percent from the equivalent period a year ago.
A few hours later, just 45 miles away on Long Island, the man hired to clean up the mess left by Kumar, CA chief executive John Swainson, read a script of his own on a conference call to announce the company's quarterly earnings.
While revenues and earnings have inched upward, cash flow - the constant that has sustained the company during its darkest moments and persuaded a coterie of investors to remain shockingly loyal to its stock - is sagging.
When he arrived, the nearly billion-in-revenues company had barely avoided federal indictment for securities fraud and obstruction of justice - Swainson has called it a "near-death experience" - and had negotiated a deferred prosecution agreement, which essentially put the company on probation.
Eight former senior executives, including Kumar, would eventually plead guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice or both.
The ex-CEO read a statement that expressed regret - "I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize for my conduct" - with all the remorse of a man reciting a grocery list.
Y., courtroom to receive his punishment for the .2 billion accounting fraud and cover-up he orchestrated at the software company formerly known as Computer Associates (Charts).