It’s December already, and some of us have started considering what new year’s resolutions will be after the holidays. Companies make their annual projections and many boards of directors need to make their new year’s resolutions to be "I gotta get rid of our CEO."
The front-runners on this list were actually quite simple a few weeks ago because several legacy soon-to-be has-beens were still somehow in place. We’ve had several of our top picks on our list leave as Caplan of E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC), Forsee of Sprint (NYSE:S), and Zander of Motorola (NYSE:MOT) have been cleaned out of the top positions. O’Neal of Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) was on the list but the problems there were obviously not going to let him remain in the catbird seat until December.
Out of the 24/7 Wall St. list issued in December 2006 for the 2007 new year’s corporate resolutions 6 of our 8 that we said "had to go" were axed:
- Rollins of Dell;
- Nardelli of Home Depot;
- Prince of Citigroup;
- Semel of Yahoo!;
- Pressler of Gap Inc.;
- Panero of Sirius/XM Satellite.
These are all obvious now, but some were not so obvious and many had never been under much public scrutiny at the time in December 2006. The two survivors were Lee Scott of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Antonio Perez of Eastman Kodak (NYSE"EK). We still feel these companies would both be under better and newer leadership, but we have no interest in re-commenting about the department of redundancy department. So we’d still recommend for shareholders to keep the pressure on these two.
It should be very clear by now that all board of directors should have a go-to list of 10 people they would each individually think of to go after in their industry before firing a CEO, CFO, or COO. What Citigroup did was an outright disgrace. Chuck Prince was a company dead man in January of 2007 and they had all year to line up a successor, even if the successor wouldn’t want to come in until the bad things were made public.
For starters, we did not include all of the heads of brokerage firms and the heads of banks, lenders, homebuilders and more. The truth is that in hindsight any or all of these CEO’s would be at risk. But the herd mentality makes them more of a bad group rather than all bad individually and we are honing in on individual poor performance. There are some candidates here for CEO’s of these companies, but it is specifically tied to individual situations.
We have also honed in on CEO’s where we’d expect their underlying stock to rally upon the announcement of their resignations or terminations. We have even given some of these an out by transitioning part of their role out as a good enough reward. This is not personal at all and we have not met these CEO’s personally. As always, we hold no shares in any companies and have not been given any financial incentive to put this together.
Our selections have been completed and you can expect to see this list of CEO’s that need to go over today, tomorrow, and maybe a couple next week.
Jon C. Ogg
December 6, 2007
Jon Ogg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.