Investing

Best and Worst Run Companies in America

6. Oracle
> CEO name (tenure): Larry Ellison (34 years)
> YTD stock: up 0.5%
> Latest quarter EPS: up 33% to $0.36
> Insider ownership: 23.2%

> Key event: buy cloud company “RightNow”

The company Larry Ellison founded continues to dominate the global enterprise software industry despite challenges from IBM (NYSE: IBM), HP, and Microsoft. Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) recently bought RightNow, a cloud computing company, after two other recent buyouts of ATG and Fatwire. Oracle is one of the few large American corporations that has been able to successfully buy that which it cannot build quickly. Oracle has nearly 50% of the global database market, which is considered critical to the sale of its servers and consulting products to large IT businesses and corporate IT departments.

7. Starbucks
> CEO name (tenure): Howard Schulz (3 years, second tenure as CEO)
> YTD Stock: up 36%
> Latest Quarter EPS: Up 33% to $0.36
> Insider ownership: 4.8%
> Key Event: ppens 500th store in China

When Howard Schultz, Starbucks’s (NASDAQ: SBUX) founder, returned to the helm of the company three years ago, it was in a shambles. It had expanded too quickly, particularly in the U.S., just as the economy hit a recession. Schultz retrenched, and then began to recreate the corporate image. Among his most important decisions was to introduce the Via line of instant coffee, which allowed people to drink Starbucks coffee easily without going to stores. Additionally, Starbucks increased product distribution through other fast food outlets with its Seattle’s Best Coffee. Schultz also made simple changes to stores, which put baristas closer to customers. This became part of the original intimacy that allowed Starbucks to grow as a brand. Starbucks continues to diversity its risk beyond the store level. It recently bought Evolution Fresh as an attempt to move into the fresh juice market.

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8. Whole Foods
> CEO name (tenure): John Mackey (21 years)
> YTD stock: up 35%
> Latest quarter EPS: up 32% to $0.50
> Insider ownership: 12.0%
> Key event: announced 1,000 store goal

Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM) was a niche food retailer for nearly two decades. Management recently decided to change that, and the company has embarked on plans that could easily double its size. Whole Foods has 316 stores in the U.S. and says it will take that number to 1,000 in the next few years. It also plans further expansion into Canada and the UK. Wall St. has approved of the Whole Foods’ expansion plan for two reasons. The first is that the food chain is unusual in the industry because it has no debt. The second is that sales of organic foods have become attractive enough so that even big-box companies like Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Target (NYSE: TGT) carry them.

9. Walt Disney
> CEO name (tenure): Robert Iger (6 years)
> YTD stock: down 2%
> Latest quarter EPS: up 15% to $0.77
> Insider ownership: 7.6%
> Key event: ESPN reaches 100 million households

Disney (NYSE: DIS) has done well because it follows a key premise of successful management. It sticks to its knitting and improves the operating efficiencies of businesses it already knows. Disney has added a number of channels that carry the ESPN name, taking advantage of what is arguably the most well-known name in sports media. And while it is difficult for any brand to accomplish, let alone a multi-decade-old one, the company has actually managed to keep the Disney brand pristine. Brand research firm Interbrand ranks Disney as the number nine most valuable brand in the world, with brand equity of $29 billion — only slightly behind Apple’s. This permits the company to more easily market its growing list of theme parks, films and Disney store locations

Also Read: The Newest Fortune 100 Companies

10. Home Depot
> CEO name (tenure): Frank Blake (4 years)
> YTD stock: up 16%
> Latest quarter EPS: up 18% to $0.60
> Insider ownership: 1.04%
> Key event: Q3 comparable store sales up 3.8%

It is extraordinary that Home Depot (NYSE: HD) has been able to manage an increase in same-store sales during a housing downturn. Careful cost management has also give shareholders a nearly 20% EPS growth rate. To say that the largest home improvement chain in the U.S. faces headwinds when real estate prices in some regions are down 40% or more is an understatement. Home Depot’s success is related to its new programs to connect to customers. It offers “how-to” product guides that make it easier for novices to make home repairs. Home Depot also hosts online forums, which help people share building problems and solutions. It now rents tools as well as sells them. Home Depot is not just a store chain any more; it acts as a reference guide to home ownership