3 Energy CEOs Stepping Down in 2012

As the end of the year winds down, a handful of companies begin to prepare for an important transition: CEO succession. Energy companies in particular have been active in elevating individuals to new leadership positions. Take a look at three energy CEOs stepping down in 2012.

Rene Joyce -- Targa Resources (NYSE: TRGP  )
Targa Resources is relatively new to the energy game, coming into existence under CEO Joyce eight years ago. When the midstream natural gas company announced the management change last week, shares jumped 6%, trading at six times the average volume.

Targa had a great third quarter, reporting $4.9 million in net income, compared with a loss of $17.5 million for the same period last year. As a result, the company increased its dividend by about 6%. New CEO Joe Bob Perkins takes over Jan. 1 and has said that the company may boost its dividend by as much as 40% next year. Additionally, Targa's master limited partnership, Targa Resources Partners (NYSE: NGLS  ) , may increase distributions as much as 10% to 20%.

Rick George -- Suncor Energy (NYSE: SU  )
Over the course of his 21 years as CEO, Rick George built Suncor into Canada's largest energy company. 2011 has been one of Suncor's best years: The company completed a merger with Petro-Canada, put out great production numbers, and is anticipating cash flows to top last year's impressive number of $5.5 billion.

Suncor operates in the controversial Alberta oil sands, and though it can be costly to produce oil there, if the price of oil remains as high as it is now, the company will continue to be successful when Chief Operating Officer Steve Williams takes over as CEO in May.

John Pinkerton -- Range Resources (NYSE: RRC  )
Earlier this month, Morningstar nominated Pinkerton for its CEO of the Year award, along with Costco's Jim Sinegal and Amazon's Jeff Bezos. The nominees make for great company, but Pinkerton is no slouch. He has led Range to a great year, and the third quarter was no exception. Perhaps most notably, despite selling off its Barnett Shale assets -- which accounted for 20% of production -- Range still managed an overall production output that was 7% higher over the same time last year.

Consider the company's performance relative to the performance of the S&P 500 and three companies with similar production numbers this year: Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE: COG  ) , Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL  ) , and Pioneer Natural (NYSE: PXD  ) .

Range's stock has performed tremendously this year, up 55%, topped only by Cabot Oil & Gas.

Pinkerton is stepping down on Jan. 1 but will remain with the company as executive chairman. He will be replaced by current Range COO Jeff Ventura.

It's lonely at the top
We've seen more than a few awkward CEO transitions in our day (here's looking at you, HP), but sound companies can often have flawless successions. It's crucial to monitor company press releases in the early months of a new CEO's tenure to make sure everything is going according to plan. Utilizing Internet tools like My Watchlist is a great way to stay up to date on company information and analysis.

Fool contributor Aimee Duffy doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. If you have the energy, check out what she's keeping an eye on by following her on Twitter, where she goes by @TMFDuffy.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Costco Wholesale. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Costco Wholesale,, and Range Resources. 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.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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 December 07, 2011, at 12:25 PM, jsmith1999 wrote:

    I think you forgot about Jim Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips, who is stepping down in 2012 as well. Pretty bad oversight considering he's running a company bigger than all of these 3 combined.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2011, at 11:44 AM, rlp2451 wrote:

    Also forgot Michael Linn of Linn Energy, reitring at age 59 from the company he founded, on Dec. 31, 2011.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2011, at 12:38 PM, nsdevelopment wrote:

    Rene Joyce at Targa is not stepping down - he's stepping up to Excecutive Chairman. His role is not changing - he will still be managing the company.

    Also, the share price jump had nothing to do with the change in management titles. It had to do with the fact that Targa provided 2012 guidance that was higher than consensus estimates.

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