The CEO is often viewed as the captain of the ship. Whether or not a CEO's initiatives lead to a company's success or its untimely demise, it's the CEO who will ultimately get all of the credit or all of the blame. Thankfully, most CEOs have the best interests of their shareholders in mind, and many have their companies at least headed in the right direction.
There are, however, a select few who have stubbornly hit a metaphorical iceberg and refuse to abandon ship. Here are three such CEOs that should be on a short leash with shareholders -- and maybe even deserve the axe.
CEO of Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK )
Antonio Perez has been leading Eastman Kodak as CEO since 2005 and is attempting to orchestrate one of the longest-running turnarounds in corporate history. In fact, it's such a long turnaround, no one's exactly sure if it's ever going to end.
Eastman Kodak has struggled to adapt to a digital world by stubbornly hanging onto a dying film business until the last possible moment and failing to anticipate how quickly the digital camera market would become commoditized. Having produced only one full-year profit since 2005 and burning through millions in free cash flow over the past three years, Kodak has been reduced to crossing its fingers and hoping its patent lawsuits against Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) prove worthwhile. But Kodak shareholders' patience is running thin, which means bad news for Mr. Perez.
CEO of Nokia (NYSE: NOK )
Even one year has been one too many for Stephen Elop. Since coming to the helm of Nokia in 2010, Nokia's cell phone market share has fallen off a cliff, from 36.6% in the first quarter of 2010 to just 25.1% in the most recent quarter.
Spearheading the regression has been a lack of technological innovation on Nokia's part. When things were literally black-and-white, Nokia was a definitive leader. With the emergence of smartphones and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android operating system, Nokia finds itself struggling to catch up. After playing musical chairs with various operating systems over the years, Nokia looks directionless -- and it could be CEO Elop that pays the price for that lack of vision. With revenue stagnating, consider Mr. Elop to be on a short leash.
CEO of Cell Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CTIC )
James Bianco is the principal founder of Cell Therapeutics and has headed the company as CEO since 1992. In that time, the company has burned through $1.5 billion of investors' money, yet still has no marketable drugs to show for it.
The company's two primary drug candidates, pixantrone and Opaxio, have failed to garner the support of the Food and Drug Administration, which has left the company scrambling once again to secure additional financing. Pixantrone failed to meet the company's own clinical trial testing guidelines, while Opaxio hasn't yet been able to get past phase 3 trials, which it must accomplish to receive FDA approval to treat non-small-cell lung cancer. With the stock down a saddening 99.98% over the past decade, letting go off Bianco might be the only victory current shareholders could revel in.
In sum, the management of a company matters. Investing involves looking at all facets of a company -- the business, the figures, and definitely the management team. If the corporate leaders aren't up to par, it may be time to reconsider your investment.
What CEOs would you like to see replaced? Share your ideas in the comments section below and consider adding Eastman Kodak, Nokia and Cell Therapeutics to your watchlist to keep up on the latest news from each stock's respective sector.