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CEO of the Year, Final Round: Arena Pharmaceuticals vs. Lumber Liquidators

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Following eight straight weeks of profiling top-notch CEOs, and two rounds of actual community voting, it's time to unveil which two CEOs have moved on to the final 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 original eight CEOs were pitted into four matchups two weeks ago that the community had one week to vote on. Last week we released the results of the previous week's voting, and the remaining four CEOs were again bracketed for voting. This week we're unveiling last week's results and bracketing the top two CEOs for a final round of voting, in which the winner will be announced 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 article for a more complete explanation of why that particular CEO was nominated for this award.

Last week's recap:

  • Arena Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA  ) decimates Regions Financial (NYSE: RF  ) : No disrespect to Regions Financial's Grayson Hall, whose return to traditional banking activities and ability to pay off his bank's TARP loan obligations was an amazing feat -- but it got stomped by Jack Lief and Arena Pharmaceuticals by a vote count of 83% to 17%. One factor that could have played into this battle is Arena's vast stock outperformance relative to Regions. Then again, developing one of only two anti-obesity treatments, along with VIVUS' (Nasdaq: VVUS  ) Qsymia, to hit the market in 13 years has to count for something as well.
  • Lumber Liquidators (NYSE: LL  ) floors Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM  ) : I expected this matchup to be considerably closer. Whole Foods put up a solid performance in 2012 thanks to its premier margins in the grocery sector, but it was Robert Lynch's three-point plan and huge stock gains that put Lumber Liquidators over the top by a vote of 71% to 29%.

Final matchup: Arena Pharmaceuticals vs. Lumber Liquidators
OK, so it's not Darth Vader versus Luke Skywalker, but this is still a pretty potent matchup of two very deserving CEOs. On one hand we have Jack Lief of Arena Pharmaceuticals, who led his company to develop Belviq, the anti-obesity drug recently approved by the FDA that's currently in the driver's seat to be the first fat-busting drug approved internationally (all because VIVUS' Qsymia failed to gain the support of the European Medicines Agency). Arena shares are up a jaw-dropping 404% year to date.

In the other corner we have Robert Lynch of Lumber Liquidators, who's used a combination of market-driven advertising, cost-cutting, and an added focus on value, to push same-store sales consistently into the double digits. Even with a rebound in the housing sector, Lumber Liquidators is practically leading the pack with a 208% year-to-date return.

Which of these two CEOs will be The Motley Fool's CEO of the year? That's up to you to decide!

Check back for results
Be sure to check back next week, when we unveil the results of the final round of voting to help determine who is The Motley Fool's choice for best CEO of 2012.

Just because Whole Foods' co-CEO's didn't cut it as our CEO(s) of the year, that doesn't mean you should stop your research there! Find out the answers to all your Whole Foods inquiries 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.

Read/Post Comments (10) | Recommend This Article (41)

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 November 28, 2012, at 2:53 PM, bmc007 wrote:

    I think Jack Lief has done a very good job at ARNA.

  • Report this Comment On November 29, 2012, at 9:39 AM, AKBA120 wrote:

    Nobody can compete with LL's #1 QB and AKBA Rob Lynch!

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 7:50 AM, houmanjavid wrote:

    Jack Lief is the best choice!

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 7:59 AM, AKBA1244 wrote:

    LL is #1...... We have a great leader.

    Go Rob..............AKBA

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 8:53 AM, Rockyyang wrote:

    We support Rob!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 1:30 PM, beatlesforever wrote:

    Here's a list of my research articles related to Arena:

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 2:17 PM, beatlesforever wrote:

    LL has 1,263 employees

    Arena, 266


  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2012, at 7:26 PM, AlanPithy wrote:

    There is no contest here. Jack Lief from ARNA hands down. He took a company all of wall street wrote off, fought with the FDA in a quiet war of diplomacy and won! Wall street still hates him - they were short 40 million shares at $2 a share and now its $9 a share and short interest is up to 60 million. Jack Lief deserves credit for getting this one over the goal line - which includes picking the right talent, lobbying to keep some of the originators on board until approval, and signing a great deal that will see the lions share of drug sale profits go to ARNA shareholders, in a tax haven (10 years at 10% top rate) in Switzerland. In 10 years ARNA will have so much cash they will be buying out other BPs.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2012, at 10:37 AM, AKBA1123 wrote:

    I like our stock levels. I think Lumber Liquidators did the floors for the NYSE if im not mistaken. Nobody can compete with LL's #1 QB and AKBA Rob Lynch!

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2012, at 10:08 PM, foolntime wrote:

    I stopped by to see who had won. Clicked on "View Results" and was happy to see that Jack Lief, CEO of Arena Pharmaceuticals was the winner. The final vote was 2181 to 2089. Then I read the article announcing Robert Lynch as CEO of the year. What gives?

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