The Men Who Run the Weir Group

LONDON -- Management can make all the difference to a company's success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. Some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I'm assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100 (UKX). I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at Glasgow-based pump-maker Weir Group  (LSE: WEIR  ) .

Here are the key directors:

Director

Position

Lord Smith of Kelvin

(non-exec) Chairman

Keith Cochrane

Chief Executive

Jon Stanton

Finance Director

Another chairmanship
Lord Smith of Kelvin has been chairman since 2002, and has also chaired the bigger FTSE 100 member SSE since 2005. A chartered accountant, he is a former chairman of the BBC and CEO of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management.

In addition to sitting as a crossbench life peer and holding a slew of public service appointments, he is also chairman of the new Green Investment Bank. If I were a Weir shareholder I'd be concerned whether the company gets his full attention.

Results at this job better than the last
Keith Cochrane is also a chartered accountant, and was finance director from 2006 to 2009, when he was elevated to CEO.

Cochrane started his career with Arthur Andersen in Glasgow, and moved to Perth-based Stagecoach after working on its flotation. He rose to become finance director and then CEO of Stagecoach under executive chairman and founder Brian Souter.

This was a turbulent time for Stagecoach, with Cochrane spending half his time in the U.S. trying to turn around its troubled acquisition Coach USA, and he resigned in 2002 after disappointing results.

He joined Scottish Power in 2003 and was effectively deputy finance director, having been passed over for the top job in favor of Simon Lowth, now AstraZeneca's finance director. Cochrane's leadership of Weir has been more fruitful, with the shares tripling during his tenure as CEO.

First FD role
Jon Stanton is in his first finance director role, having joined Weir in 2010 from Ernst & Young. Staunton had joined Ernst & Young in 1988, becoming a partner in 2001, and was in charge of the audit of FTSE 250 engineer Invensis.

Weir has six non-execs. They are an impressive bunch for such a small FTSE 100 constituent, led by senior independent director Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the former defense secretary and NATO Secretary General. Weir is remarkably well-represented in the House of Lords.

Notably there are non-execs with backgrounds in each of Weir's three main markets, mining, oil and gas, and power.

I analyze management teams from five different angles to help work out a verdict. Here's my assessment:

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Inauspicious.

Score 2/5

2. Performance. Success at the company.

Excellent.

Score 4/5

3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

Very strong, though chairman is busy man.

Score 4/5

4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

Uncontroversial.

Score 3/5

5. Directors' Holdings, compared to their pay.

CEO £4.6m-worth, chairman £2.5 million.

Score 4/5

Overall, Weir scores 17 out of 25, a middle-order result. A chairman with a bigger job elsewhere, a CEO with a slightly unfortunate history, and an FD fresh out of the profession doesn't look auspicious, but you can't fault the results during the CEO's tenure.

I've collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page.

Buffett's favorite FTSE share
Legendary investor Warren Buffett has always looked for impressive management teams when picking stocks. His latest acquisition, Heinz, has long had a reputation for strong management. Indeed Buffett praised its "excellent management" alongside its high quality products and continuous innovation.

So I think it's important to tell you about the FTSE 100 company in which the billionaire stock-picker has a substantial stake. A special free report from The Motley Fool -- "The One U.K. Share Warren Buffett Loves" -- explains Buffett's purchase and investing logic in full.

And Buffett, don't forget, rarely invests outside his native United States, which to my mind makes this British blue chip -- and its management -- all the more attractive. So why not download the report today? It's totally free and comes with no further obligation.

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