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Unisys CEO plans departure

Even as the hardware maker's long-awaited recovery peaks on the horizon, James Unruh announces he will leave his post of seven years.

Unisys's (UIS) chairman and chief executive today turned in his resignation, even as the company's long-awaited recovery comes into view.

James A. Unruh, Unisys chairman and chief executive, said he will step down from his seven-year post once a successor is found. He said he will assist the company during the search process and transition, and will remain chairman until the company's next annual meeting in April of 1998.

In a letter to his associates, Unruh said, "With a sound strategic direction now laid out, it has become increasingly clear that the time is right for the company and for me personally to begin a smooth leadership transition that allows Unisys to continue to achieve improved results without missing a beat."

Stephen Dube, an analyst with Wasserstein Perella Securities, said the company is in a stable position to make this kind of transition. "He is leaving them in pretty good shape and I don't see why this could interfere with the company's turnaround. It has been a long, tough seven years for Unruh, so now he'll get a break."

The provider of computer hardware products and servers saw its stock jump about 10 percent in early trading to 7-3/4, from yesterday's close of 7.

For the past three quarters, the company has shown year-over-year improvements, and Wall Street analysts are expecting this trend to continue when the company reports its second-quarter results on July 24. Analysts are expecting a small profit of 4 cents a share, according to First Call.

This past year has seen quarterly improvements, but since 1992, year-over-year revenue has dropped nearly 25 percent. In 1996, revenue totaled $6.37 billion, compared to revenue of $8.42 billion reported in 1992.

The board expects its search committee to take several months to find a successor. It has named Kenneth Macke, former chairman and CEO of Dayton Hudson, to chair the search committee.