Depot backdating

Meanwhile, his attempt to take the Wal-Mart Stores approach of wringing more profit margin out of suppliers by demanding lower prices backfired badly and pushed a handful of important vendors out of the stores.

Along the way, he turned to diversifying the company's core business, spending an extraordinary amount of money and focus on Home Depot Supply and expanding internationally with store purchases in Mexico and China.

And there appeared to be a number of thoughtful and touchy differences in how to mold the maturing company to generate and then maintain revenue and profit increases in the double digits while holding onto market share.

Tom Taylor's resignation as head of merchandising and marketing "to pursue other opportunities" in July was followed by other top executives departing and a management restructuring at the top in October.

The company's got an -plus billion market capitalization, a total debt-to-capital ratio of 9.6% and generates billions of dollars annually in free cash flow.

"The stock's an awfully good buy," analyst Bugatch said.

The market, long miffed by the lackluster performance of the shares, might not be in total agreement.

Shares of Home Depot , a Dow industrials component, climbed better than 4% at the open Wednesday on the news, but fell to roughly half that to close at .07.

Blake also worked with Nardelli at GE and said Wednesday that he would follow the strategic direction in place, though analysts didn't necessarily buy that. Despite Wednesday's hoopla, many analysts kept their strong buy or buy ratings on the company. The stock's cheap, trading at a paltry 13 times to 15 times earnings expectations.

"He made several mistakes that were significant errors early on. "It appeared to me that there was a lot of unnecessary kingdom-building going on," she said.

And as time passed, many believed Nardelli was out to show Welch that he made the wrong decision in choosing Jeffrey Immelt as his successor at GE. Among Nardelli's errors at the onset was his "clumsy" attempt to cut store labor costs, since reversed, by changing staffing ratios from 60% full-time to part-time to a 50% split.

But there were other operational and management issues under fire, not all of which fell under Nardelli's reign but for which he took the hit: allegations that the company overcharged vendors (see full story).

; a grand jury subpoena (see full story) ; and a messy options-backdating discovery (see full story).

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