Issue Date: June 29, 2015
Credit If Credit’s Due
The DuPont-Trian controversy had far more substance than you reported in your editorial (C&EN, May 25, page 5). You should reexamine two premises: first, that R&D performance is measured by R&D spending, and second, that long-term performance is independent from short-term performance.
Other venerable companies have had great R&D reputations but have been unable to adequately monetize R&D spending. Bell Labs, 3M, Merck & C0., and Pfizer come to mind. I think you recognize that DuPont’s migration to life sciences is a business activity where the DuPont know-how has been acquired rather than developed in-house at DuPont’s labs. DuPont has been on a long-term acquisition spree precisely because its labs haven’t delivered adequate results.
Poorly performing companies always complain that investors focus on short-term results when the companies in question have performed poorly in the short term. These same companies have been challenged because they have not only per-formed poorly short term but also performed poorly long term. A company performing well long term is invariably performing well also in the short term. You can’t succeed in the long term without also succeeding in the short term.
I praise Ellen Kullman for substantially improving DuPont’s long-term performance. Whether that success has been adequate remains a fair question.
Half Moon Bay, Calif.
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