Shareholders Should Fire These 3 CEOs

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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.

Antonio Perez
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.

Stephen Elop
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.

James Bianco
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.

Foolish roundup
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.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Google, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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 that never fires its readers.

Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (14)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 4:26 PM, CluckChicken wrote:

    "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."

    Not that I think what NOK has done over the last year is good but at least get the numbers correct or clear up what you are talking about (smart phone shares?). Latest reports have Nokia at 31% of market share with Samsung 2nd at 20%.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 5:22 PM, oracleatdelphi66 wrote:

    There are many defintions of a Fool or Foolish, but with a spirit of light-heartedness let's just call this piece one which was written with little regard for accuracy. Regarding CTI, the facts are that the Company has had two marketed drugs. Trisonex and Zevalin during its history. CTI got Trisonex approved in what was then record time . Both products are still helping cancer patients today.

    To say that pixantrone failed at the FDA is not quite a complete statement either. A recent appeal decision from the FDA concluded that the pixantrone 301 trial may not have failed and that the NDA can and will be re-submitted. Acccelerated approval is still possible without the company having to do another trial. EU approval of pixantrone is also possible this year. Failure? Not so fast.

    The large Opaxio ovarian cancer trial is still recruting patients. An interim analysis is expected next year. How can that be a failure? The Company did release encouraging Opaxio data for treatment of brain cancer at the recent ASCO meeting. Failure?

    Finally you say the company is scrambling for funding. The company recently rasied sufficient funding to provide a runway to carry it through these pixantrone milestones. Dan Eramian CTI


  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 9:31 PM, Takeoverman wrote:

    I would be careful regarding Elop. Microsoft is giving Nokia more than $1 billion to create and market a smart cell phone using Windows 7 software. Nokia is cash rich with $10 billion more in cash than debt, and when the smoke clears and their new smart phone comes out the end of this year, Elop might just be considered a genius. It also wouldn't surprise me to see Apple or Google look into a buyout since Nokia is clearly going to start taking market share. With a tanking economy and our markets likely to test the lows of March 2009 in the near future, I would consider Nokia one of the best investments to be holding.

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2011, at 10:37 PM, thethreestooges wrote:

    NOK Elop problem is that he did not even have a working prototype of window phone before announcing jumping off the burning platform. If he had a small group of stealth engineers working on window platform and showed the world, it could have been different. Elop should have been fired for creating this confusion and uncertainty!

  • Report this Comment On July 14, 2011, at 12:21 AM, mracz425 wrote:

    Should have added RIMM's CEO's.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2011, at 2:30 AM, Phoenix002 wrote:

    One more: John Chambers, Cisco Systems

    a) utterly destroyed shareholder value in a time & age where their company pathway should be paved with gold

    b) instituting a technical support dept. that completely reeks of contempt for both their customers and resellers (I work for a Cisco reseller)

    The sooner Chambers is gone (and a competent replacement installed) the better.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2011, at 2:56 AM, TMFUltraLong wrote:

    Phoenix & mracz425,

    RIMM"s 2 CEO's, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Cisco's John Chambers were a consideration.

    Ballmer and Chambers continue to pile onto their strong cash positions. Sure technological innovation has slowed to a crawl, but they pay dividends and offer moderate values to investors. RIMM's CEO' they have taken a novel idea and thus far crashed and burned with it.


  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2011, at 12:35 PM, punyhuman wrote:

    I agree that RIMM's CEOs deserve to be on this list.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2011, at 8:31 AM, Wolfgangus wrote:

    Oh my goodness, no-- Cell Therapeutics can not in good conscience claim ANY credit for Zevalin. This is a complex radioimmunotherapy for indolent non-Hodgkin lymphomas that they purchased from another biotech and held on to for maybe 18 months before selling it off to Spectrum. CTI had nothing to do with its development whatsoever.

    And pixantrone is a travesty. The OODP and Richard Pazdur blasted their phase III trial data a year ago because it was indeed pathetic. Instead of enrolling 320, they enrolled 140. Of the patients in the pixantrone arm, I believe fewer than 5 of them were actually American patients, and yet they wanted to market the drug in the States.

    Not for nothing have the shareholders filed a massive lawsuit against Bianco and the other principles-- they've been lying through their teeth for years now. Instead of firing Bianco, CTI- well, rather the cancer community at large-- would be better served if CTI disappeared.

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