We all know what makes a good CEO - a leader that keeps shareholders happy with steady growth, fattening profits, and, for good measure, rising dividends.
The worst CEOs lose their grip on their companies and lose the faith of shareholders, customers, and, in the end, their board of trustees.
That's when they also tend to lose their jobs.
And these days more CEOs are worried about losing their jobs. A survey of 100 chief executives late last year by RHR International revealed rising anxiety: two-thirds (67%) of the CEOs reported that increased stakeholder scrutiny was affecting their perception of job security, up from 45% from the previous year.
So who's next?
We found seven of the worst CEOs who still have their jobs - but won't for much longer.Worst CEOs - The Not-So-Magnificent Seven
- Joseph Magnacca - RadioShack Corp (NYSE: RSH)
RadioShack's problems started long before Joseph Magnacca became CEO early last year, but unless he comes up with some miracle fixes soon his days are numbered. Last month the New York Stock Exchange warned RadioShack that it would be delisted unless it could get its stock back above $1 a share within six months. (Yesterday RSH was $0.64 in mid-day trading.) Things are so bad that RadioShack needed to borrow money to close 1,100 of its 4,400 company-owned stores - and got turned down for the loan. Magnacca doesn't even need to be fired to lose his job - his company could simply collapse from under him.
And the rest of these CEOs don't have it any better...
- Eddie Lampert - Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD)
Eddie Lampert, once the CEO of Kmart, created this dysfunctional monster in 2004 when his company bought Sears, Roebuck & Co. for $11 billion. As most surmised at the time, merging two struggling and behind-the-times retailers was no kind of solution. Revenue and earnings have consistently disappointed. Over the past decade SHLD has fallen 44%; during the rebound since 2009, it's only up 5% (the S&P 500 is up 180% over than span). And Lampert is among the most disliked CEOs in corporate America; according to Glassdoor, only 20% approve of the job he's doing. Frankly, it's stunning that he's managed to remain CEO of Sears for this long.
- Dick Costelo - Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR)
After the hype of the Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) IPO, all eyes were on Twitter. But where Facebook seems to have answered the question of how it can make money and grow profits, the jury is still out on Twitter, and by extension CEO Dick Costelo. The recent report of a 24% increase in average monthly active users is encouraging, but analysts polled by Zacks.com expect the company to lose $0.98 a share this year and $0.87 a share in 2015. At some point, investors are going to want to see Costelo's road map to sustained profitability - or he'll be a goner.
- Mike Ullman - J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP)
Mike Ullman was already fired as J.C. Penney CEO once, back in 2011, when activist investor Bill Ackman pressured for his ouster. After Ron Johnson made an even bigger mess of the venerable retailer, Ullman was brought back last year. But Ullman's real problem now is not whether he can save J.C. Penney, but whether anyone can as the world of retailing becomes increasingly Internet-based. And carrying $5.6 billion in debt with a debt-to-equity ratio of 179% isn't helping. Ullman has managed to pare J.C Penney's losses, but unless he can figure out how to get it on a growth track, he'll soon be experiencing a strong sense of déjà vu.
- Ursula K. Burns - Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX)
- Michael Jeffries - Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF)
- Marissa Mayer - Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)
Marissa Mayer is perhaps the most unlikely name on this list. When she took the helm of troubled Yahoo in July 2012, everyone from Wall Street to Silicon Valley believed she was the right person to turn the company around. Her buying spree of more than 40 companies, including $1 billion for Tumblr, has yet to bear any fruit. And revenue has remained flat despite rising Web traffic. True, YHOO stock is up about 125% in the two years since Mayer has been CEO, but that's mostly because of the company's one-quarter stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA). In fact, the stake in Alibaba is big enough to account for Yahoo's entire market cap - which means the rest of the business is virtually worthless. While the Alibaba windfall has bought Mayer time, she'll need to prove she can wring profit out of Yahoo's other businesses if she wants to survive.
At one time an inspirational story - Ursula Burns made history as the first African American CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she was named to the post in 2009 - her tenure at Xerox has been marred by missteps. The biggest was her $6.4 billion acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services in early 2010, which was supposed to add to Xerox's revenue growth. It didn't. In fact, both revenue and income since 2010 are flat to down. And the situation is not expected to improve this year. Burns has a lot of friends on the Xerox board, but eventually they'll have no choice but to put friendship aside for the good of the company.
Abercrombie & Fitch has bounced back a little in 2014, but the stock is still down about 40% from its 2011 highs. The drop came as CEO Michael Jeffries let Abercrombie fall behind competitors like The Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) and Urban Outfitters Inc. (Nasdaq: URBN). Following a long slide in earnings, gross margin, and same store sales, the Abercrombie board earlier this year stripped Jeffries of his chairman title, a partial response to several large shareholders who wanted him out altogether. His employees aren't fans, either, as only 28% approve of him on Glassdoor.com. For Jeffries, the clock is getting close to midnight.
Follow me on Twitter @DavidGZeiler.
UP NEXT: No matter how well or how poorly a CEO runs their company, they are almost always extremely well compensated. As of this year, CEO pay averaged $7,000 an hour - 350 times that of the typical U.S. worker. But that's just the average. Wait until you see what the top 10 most highly paid CEOs are raking in...Tags: CEOs in America, CEOs to get fired, dow, investing in 2014, Investing in the stock market, Investing Today, market crash, market news, market news 2014, stock market 2014, stock market crash, stock market crash today, stock market news, stock market news 2014, stock market news today, stock market now, Stock Market Today, stock market trend, stock market trends 2014, stock market trends this week, stock news, stock news 2014, Stocks, stocks 2014, Stocks to Buy, U.S. CEOs, U.S. Economy, Wall Street