December may be the time of year when companies dole out Christmas bonuses and promotions, but it also affords a chance to look back and see which corporate leaders are deserving of a lump of coal. With that in mind, we asked three of our contributors to name a CEO that needs to be shown the door. They chose the leaders at McDonald's and Sears Holdings and the man slated to head up eBay after it spins off PayPal.
Bob Ciura (McDonald's): I think the CEO offast-food giant McDonald's needs to go. As a shareholder, I'm very discouraged by McDonald's poor performance, as the stock has badly trailed the broader market. In fact, over the past two years, McDonald's has registered just a 9.5% return, not including dividends, which is woefully behind the S&P 500's 47% gain in the same time frame.
Admittedly, some of McDonald's problems are outside its control. Its core customer demographic, namely lower-income consumers, have had a very hard time recovering from the Great Recession. It's certainly true that McDonald's key customers are not enjoying an economic recovery nearly to the extent as higher-income consumers. But what's worse is that McDonald's has seen competitors steal away its customers, and has done little to change that. Customer service at McDonald's restaurants is getting worse by several metrics, including wait times at drive-throughs. McDonald's management has repeatedly referred to its complicated menu offerings as a reason for why service time is slowing down, yet the company has done almost nothing to simplify its menu so far.
When it comes to international markets, McDonald's should be capitalizing on the rapid growth of emerging economies such as China. But it's falling behind there as well. What hasn't helped is that McDonald's was recently the subject of a consumer backlash in China for a food safety scandal. This helped cause sales in McDonald's APMEA segment (Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa) to fall by 10% last quarter.
The end result is that McDonald's stock has barely budged for two years now, and the company has offered up two disappointing dividend raises in this time. What's worse is that I have little confidence that things will change under current management. For these reasons, McDonald's CEO Donald Thompson needs to go.
Jeremy Bowman (Sears Holdings): Sears Holdings has seen a dismantling unlike any other retailer over the past decade. Revenue has fallen more than a third from over $52 billion to just $33.7 billion and the stock price has shrunk 75% from its pre-recession to just $33 today.
Much of the blame for the once-iconic retailer's downfall can be laid at the feet of CEO Eddie Lampert, who's made several poor decisions in his stewardship of the company. Chief among them may be his refusal to invest in K-Mart and Sears, spending much less on store maintenance than the average retailer. Lampert, a former hedge fund manager who had no retail experience, has also been known for his lack of interest in and attention to key retailing concepts like merchandising and marketing strategy. In recent years, the company has spun off several subsidiaries including Sears Hometown and Outlet and Lands' End, which may have unlocked value for shareholders, but have further revealed the retail core to be a rotting skeleton of its former self.
In its third-quarter report recently, Sears Holdings actually beat expectations, but still reported a $296 million adjusted net loss. It also increased the number of stores to be closed from 130 to 235, more than 10% of its total Despite turnaround efforts, there seems to be little chance of the company returning to profitability. As the chairman and a major shareholder, Lampert is unlikely to be ousted from the executive's chair, but his continuing presence should be a reminder to investors to avoid this stock.
Brian Nichols (eBay): Devin Wenig isn't yet CEO of eBay; he's slated to take that job when PayPal is spun off next year, but there are reasons to think he shouldn't be given the corner office in the first place. Wenig is currently president of eBay Marketplaces. The post-spinoff eBay will include Marketplace and eBay's Enterprise segment, which refers to eBay's partnerships with other e-commerce providers to offer services like fulfillment, accounting, Web stores, etc.
The problem is that eBay's Marketplace has been a company laggard for well over a year. During the third quarter, Marketplace revenue grew just 6% year-over-year, down from 9% growth in the second quarter.
ChannelAdvisor reported that on Thanksgiving Day its eBay clients saw a 3% decline in same-store sales compared to Thanksgiving last year. My point is that under Wenig's leadership, eBay's Marketplace has seen its growth tumble in recent memory yet eBay's current board of directors is promoting him after the spinoff. It seems to me that Marketplace is in need of a big-time change, a new vision, someone who sees the growth opportunity in e-commerce and is can capture it. Wenig is proving himself not to be that person.
The article 3 CEOs That Deserve a Pink Slip originally appeared on Fool.com.
Bob Ciura owns shares of McDonald's. Brian Nichols has no position in any stocks mentioned. Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends eBay and McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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