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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.