Large Company Female CEOs Face Headwinds

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6. Carol Meyrowitz
> The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX)
> Revenue: $23.2 billion
> YTD stock price: +35%

Carol Meyrowitz became CEO of TJX, the parent of well-known retailers T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s, in early 2008. TJX describes itself as the biggest “off-price” apparel and home fashions retailer in the America. That puts it squarely into competition with big box retailers, including Wal-Mart and Target. But the competition has not hurt TJX. As a matter of fact, the company has thrived, with rapid same-store sales improvements. In November, for example, according to the company, “consolidated comparable store sales for the four-week period ended November 24, 2012, increased 3% over a 4% increase last year.” The success has been evident in TJX’s financial results. The company raised its guidance for the current quarter, and its entire fiscal year. Sales and net income have risen every year since Meyrowitz took over. Meyrowitz serves to some extent at the will of chairman Bernard Cammarata who founded TJX and remains its largest private shareholder.

 7. Ursula Burns
> Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX)
> Revenue: $22.6 billion
> YTD stock price: -14%

In July 2009, Ursula Burns succeeded another female CEO at Xerox, Anne M. Mulcahy. At about the same time Burns took her job, Xerox finished its arrangement to buy Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion. The acquisition was not a success, as evident by the company’s financial results in the first three quarters of the year. In the third quarter, revenue fell 3% to $5.4 billion. Over the course of the first nine months, revenue dropped by 1% to $16.5 billion. Net income for the third quarter was off 12% to $282 million. Xerox’s legacy document processing segment continued to shrink, and its new services business, the future of the company, has stagnated. Burns has had three years to get Xerox’s business mix and cost base right but has failed completely to do so. It is a wonder at this point that the board allows Burns to remain in place.

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8. Sherilyn McCoy
> Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP)
> Revenue: $11.3 billion
> YTD stock price: -19%

Sherilyn McCoy took over in Avon in April, 2012. She might say that all of Avon’s problems were caused by her predecessor, Andrea Jung, who ran the company from 1999 until she was unceremoniously ousted in 2011. That is not an acceptable defense for McCoy to make. Avon’s share price has continued to fall since McCoy became chief executive, to some large extent because she has not been able to articulate to Wall Street how she plans to make Avon’s situation better. Given the company’s struggles, Wall Street lowered expectations, but the cosmetics company’s third quarter results couldn’t even match the lowered expectations. Revenue fell 8% to $2.6 billion. Net income was $32 million compared to $165 million in the same quarter a year ago. McCoy’s comments were of no value to investors who wanted some insight into turnaround plans. The length of her tenure has given her enough time to articulate them, particularly since she is a seasoned executive who was vice chairman of pharmaceuticals at Johnson & Johnson. McCoy said at the time of the last earnings release, “we have identified the first critical actions to return Avon to a position of financial health and improve our competitive position. With a clear focus on growing the top-line, managing costs, and improving our working capital, I am confident that we are moving Avon toward a steady recovery.” There is nothing in that about how the company means to improve revenue — the most critical factor of all.

9. Debra Reed
> Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE)
> Revenue: $10 billion
> YTD stock price: +30%

Last month, Debra Reed was named chairman of Sempra. She was named CEO in June 2011. Sempra, which runs San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas, posted a better than expected quarter. Analysts had estimated the company would earn $1 per share. The actual results were $1.33 per share. However, Sempra lowered guidance, which knocked its shares down the day after it made the announcement. Despite that rough patch, Sempra shares are up almost 30% so far this year. Part of Sempra’s appeal is its dividend, which yields 3.36%, and can be considered a safe harbor for investors who are skittish about the market. Sempra has been praised for its move into renewable energy, which may eventually offset its reliance on the heavily regulated utility sector. Under Reed, it is expected that Sempra’s recently construction and operation of solar and wind facilities will continue, which will take the company beyond its conventional revenue sources

-Douglas A. McIntyre

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