Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy to dissect balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements. This is the first step in getting your feet wet in the investment world.
But it doesn't stop there. If we were to base investing decisions solely on what we read in these statements, that would be akin to picking a significant other based solely on their Facebook profile -- to many, it just doesn't make sense to avoid real-life interaction.
Investigating these "soft" aspects of a company is important for investors. And although we can't capture all of the intangibles of a company in one article, Glassdoor.com -- a website that collects employee sentiment for companies across the world -- recently came out with a list that could help: the Top CEOs of 2013.
Over the past few days, I've covered CEOs 25 through 5. Today, I'm going to introduce you to the company with the 4th-highest-rated CEO, give you some background on the company, and at the end, I'll offer access to a special free report on who is going to win the war between the five biggest tech stocks.
EMC (NYSE: EMC )
For those who might be unfamiliar with this three-letter entity, EMC is a leader in creating data storage and security infrastructure for the growing information needs of today's world. In other words, it is firmly entrenched in the war to win the battle for providing cloud computing with the necessary components to make the cloud work.
Though the company is valued at roughly $50 billion and has about 60,000 employees, it will have to prove nimble at fending off rivals with deeper pockets to provide the parts necessary to make tomorrow's cloud work.
IBM (NYSE: IBM ) and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) represent the bulk of that competition -- as both companies are worth three to five times the value of EMC, and have between two to seven times the employees working for them. Though EMC might have been an earlier entrant into the data storage and security arena for the cloud, both of these giants have competing products on the market -- Oracle with its Exadata and IBM with its SmartCloud.
It takes leadership to slay these giants
Leading the charge to win this battle is CEO Joe Tucci. Tucci has been the head of EMC since January 2001, and under his guidance, the company has expanded its reach, and with it, its revenue and earnings.
Taken from mid-2002 -- which eliminates the dot-com bust he inherited and had little control over -- EMC has grown revenue and earnings by 13% and 36% per year.
Along the way, Tucci has made some pivotal moves to keep EMC ahead of the competition. That included the 2004 decision to acquire VMware (NYSE: VMW ) , a cloud and virtualization company, and later offer some VMware shares in a 2007 IPO. EMC still owns roughly 80%, and Tucci has made some tough calls on the board of VMware along the way, most notably replacing Diane Greene as CEO of VMware in 2008.
Those important moves continued more recently when he announced that EMC would be spinning off some profitable, but non-core businesses in what the company is calling "the pivotal initiative."
One of the reasons that Tucci has been able to make these tough calls and turn the company around following the dot-com bust is because of the way he goes about running his business. As The Korn/Ferry Institute noted in a 2012 interview:
He is passionate about two big things. Everyone at EMC -- from administrative assistants to engineers -- is client-facing and interacts with customers. He is also passionate about making sure EMC is an inclusive company. In fact, Tucci goes so far as to say to all employees, "This is not my company; this is your company."
Creating that kind of culture helps explain why 96% of Tucci's employees approve of the job he's doing, and why EMC's stock has returned 240% since 2002.
Investors should take note, however, that Tucci's time with the company may be limited, as his current contract has him serving as CEO until February of 2015, though that timeline could be extended.
The battle for tech supremacy
It's incredible to think just how much of our digital and technological lives are almost entirely shaped and molded by just a handful of companies. Find out "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?", and if EMC is one of those five companies, in The Motley Fool's latest free report, which details the knock-down, drag-out battle being waged by the five kings of tech. Click here to keep reading.