Dishing Up New Management

Oh, how I hate going bearish on a stock experts like. But EchoStar (Nasdaq: DISH  ) , which has attracted master investors George Soros, Seth Klarman, and Bruce Berkowitz in recent months, frightens me.

Maybe it's the proximity of the firm to my home. EchoStar is spitting distance from here, which could explain why its parking lot is covered in loogies. Well, not really. But I know a lot of people who work there, and the vast majority of them hate it.

Frankly, that's why I've resisted investing in the satellite TV provider's shares. I know too much about how it seems to squeeze employees. My mind races as I imagine the hamster wheel of turnover potentially spinning swiftly and noisily.

I have my doubts, but the addition of Carl Vogel and Bernard Han to the executive team shouldn't hurt. On Monday, Vogel -- EchoStar's vice chairman and former CEO of Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR  ) -- became company president, filling a role left vacant by the resignation of Michael Neuman in February. Han was hired the same day as chief financial officer, replacing David Raymer.

Normally, I'm not much for personnel changes, but EchoStar desperately needs help. For example, pioneering digital video recorder (DVR) maker TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) has won key battles in a patent infringement case between the two. Barring a successful appeal, millions of Dish customers -- yours truly included - could face the prospect of shutting off our private-label DVRs forever. (You'd think this could potentially be a big enough problem that Dish would have called or sent a letter notifying me of its backup plan. But have I seen or heard a peep? Not at all.)

Plus, I think it speaks volumes that EchoStar had to look internally to fill the role of president. Turnarounds require top-notch talent, and if EchoStar can't recruit it, bigger problems may yet surface. At the very least, it makes me wonder whether today's management team has the stuff to reverse the 23% drop in net subscriber additions that EchoStar suffered through during the first half of 2006.

But hey, enough with the Gloomy Gus routine. Welcome to Englewood, Carl and Bernard! You're arriving just as the air turns crisp and the leaves turn red. It's a beautiful time to be outside. Take advantage, since it should be a lot more enjoyable than the mess that seems to wait for you both inside EchoStar's boardroom.

Look! Related Foolishness is on:

TiVo is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Ask us for anall-access pass, and you'll get a backstage look at all of the stocks that are helping David and Tom Gardner beat the S&P 500 by more than 40% as of this writing. It'sfree for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a reluctant Dish customer. DirecTV (NYSE: DTV  ) is too lame, and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) is too expensive. Sigh. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Find a complete list of his holdings by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is prime time.


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