Few companies have run the gamut from love to hate on Wall Street and lived to tell about it. Waste Management
Certainly, many companies have gone from Wall Street darling to Wall Street dog, but only a select few of these ever manage to become even a shadow of their former selves. The ones that seem to have the most success, though, are those that shoot to become just a good, solid company quietly running its business, as opposed to trying to get back to what got them in trouble in the first place.
The problem with "darling" status is that Wall Street is fickle. And when you're at the top, there's only one place to go, and it doesn't take much to send you there. Expectations become extreme at the top, and if you're not blowing the Street's numbers out of the water, you're likely to be blown from the water yourself.
Under that kind of performance pressure, a company often finds itself managing expectations more frequently than it manages its business -- always a recipe for disaster.
Indeed, Waste Management has most definitely been there and back again (to borrow a phrase from Bilbo Baggins), as former Fool Brian Graney described in his 1999 article. Those investors who, at the time, took his advice to avoid the stock are probably thanking him for it, as it took the shares another four months to hit bottom.
However, despite its past, and its long road to recovery, it finally seems to be righting the ship. The firm is now in the final year of its three-year restructuring plan, and with today's announcement that it will be cutting an additional 800 jobs -- most of them management positions -- the company is finally making strides in streamlining its business and creating efficiencies where few existed before.
If Waste Management can continue its progress and come through on its final promises, it may prove to be the turnaround play many have sought.