Like any sports team, many businesses face the reality that the essential components may be in place for a successful season, but a change in top leadership is required to achieve that goal.
“There’s growing evidence that CEO departures that are driven by a wider strategic realignment often result in substantial improvements—for the business and its shareholders,” Fortune explained.
According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 1,452 CEOs at U.S. companies with more than 10 employees left their jobs in 2018—a 25% increase from 2017 levels and the largest wave of departures since the 2008 recession, Fortune said.
Fortune said about 25 percent of such departures were described as retirements, and a handful were driven by #MeToo issues and other misconduct. “But the high turnover also reflects businesses coping with a changing economic environment in which recessionary trends have begun to undermine their earnings and share prices.”
Fortune recently speculated about four companies at which a recent change in their corner office could result in a stock boost:
- Gilead Sciences (GILD): Former Roche Holdings executive Daniel O’Day will become CEO in March amid a bright future for the company's cancer and HIV treatments. Cowen analyst Phil Nadeau has called Gilead "very much a value stock.”
- Xerox (XRX): Current CEO John Visentin's company has strong operating cash flow adds up to an impressive 10% of revenues. That gives the company the ability to support a 5% dividend yield, as well as the flexibility to invest in innovations that could help Xerox offset the decline in printing. Xerox “generates a bunch of cash,” says JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster.
- Mattel (MAT): Ynon Kreiz, CEO, Mattel is steering the troubled toymaker toward intellectual-property plays—including a live-action Barbie film. He aims to follow the lead of Hasbro and other competitors by connecting with kids via the big screen.
- Clothing retailer Lands’ End (LE): Current CEO Jerome Griffith has gone back to the company’s roots, focusing on coats and other outerwear. If the company’s pace of sales growth—currently 6%—accelerates, Lands’ End could be a good buy, says C.L. King analyst Steven Marotta.
As with most things in life, such corporate success can be boiled down to honesty, clear communication and high moral standards and beliefs.
To be sure, Kylie Wright-Ford is the CEO of the Reputation Institute, wrote in a Boston Business Journal viewpoint piece that building trust is a must for CEOs in 2019.
"This is no time for CEOs to be sitting back. It’s a time for CEOs to be present and take a stand. Audiences that have a greater level of familiarity with CEOs are more likely to buy from, invest in, and want to work for their respective companies," she wrote. "So, as a CEO, be vocal and be out there. Focus on building trust and the rest will follow."
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