CEO of the Year, Round 2: Lumber Liquidators vs. Whole Foods Market

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Following eight straight weeks of profiling top-notch CEOs, and the first week of actual community voting, it's time to unveil which four CEOs are moving onto the quarterfinals and still have a shot at being named the best CEO in 2012.

The methodology behind the voting is simple. Similar to an NCAA-style basketball bracket, the eight CEOs were pitted into four matchups last week that the community had one week to vote on. This week we're releasing the results of the previous week's voting, and the remaining four CEOs are again going to be bracketed for voting. Voting will continue over the next two weeks until we have a winner, which will be unveiled at the beginning of December.

As you can see, the ball really is in your court and you do have a say in who merits the coveted title of The Motley Fool's chosen CEO of the year. Below the voting bracket I've included a recap of last week's voting as well as a quick synopsis of this week's matchup; however, I encourage you to revisit the nomination articles for a more complete explanation of why that particular CEO was nominated for this award:

Last week's recap:

  • Arena Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA  ) crushes Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) : This high-profile matchup wasn't anywhere near as close as originally anticipated. By a margin of 76% to 24%, community members have chosen to send Arena's Jack Lief on to the next round. Perhaps Apple's weak Christmas-quarter guidance and the possibility that the iPad Mini may cannibalize its tablet margins had something to do with the community's lack of support for Apple's Tim Cook?
  • Lumber Liquidators (NYSE: LL  ) mercy-rules Gap (NYSE: GPS  ) : It wasn't Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale, but by a vote of 92% to 8%, it was a landslide in every sense of the word for Lumber Liquidators' Robert Lynch. Not even Gap's 66% jump in net income and boosted full-year forecast could save CEO Glenn Murphy from securing just a fraction of community members' votes.
  • Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM  ) slices and dices Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF  ) : Oddly enough, this matchup received as many votes as nearly all other match-ups combined! Unfortunately for Jon Feltheimer and Lions Gate, a ridiculously impressive debut for its latest Twilight movie went for naught as Whole Foods and its co-CEOs, John Mackey and Walter Robb, advanced by a score of 71% to 29%.
  • Regions Financial (NYSE: RF  ) edges out Silver Wheaton (NYSE: SLW  ) : In what was by far the closest match-up of the four, Regions Financial's Grayson Hall sneaked past Silver Wheaton's Randy Smallwood by a vote of 53% to 47%. Either CEO would be perfectly deserving of moving on to the second round, but it appears Hall will be getting the opportunity per our community members.

Semifinal matchup: Lumber Liquidators vs. Whole Foods Market
This matchup will feature two businesses that are likely to beat the pulp out of one another (sorry, I couldn't help myself). On one side we have Lumber Liquidators' Robert Lynch, who's used a three-point plan to drive double-digit sales growth and a doubling in his company's share price. In the other corner, we have Whole Foods' co-CEOs, John Mackey and Walter Robb, whose organic and natural food grocery chain produces margins that are often triple that of their peers, yet all employees get a fair shake when it comes to compensation and benefits. Which CEO (or CEO team) has been more impressive in 2012? You tell us!

Check back for results
Be sure to check out the other best CEO semifinal matchup at the following link, and check back next week, when we unveil the results and highlight the final round of voting to help determine who is The Motley Fool's choice for best CEO of 2012.

Can Whole Foods keep up its dominance, or will rising food costs bring it down with its peers? Find out the answer to this question and much more by getting your copy of our latest premium research report on Whole Foods. Packed with in-depth analysis on the opportunities and threats facing Whole Foods -- and complete with a year of regular updates -- this report will give you the tools needed to make smart long-term investing decisions. Click here to learn more.

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