's Scott Rothbort released his annual list of the worst-run companies on Wednesday, and left me baffled.

After going over a few recent pans, Rothbort singles out three publicly traded companies as the worst of the 2009 crop. I don't agree with any of them. Here are Rothbort's picks:

  • AMD (NYSE:AMD), the computer-chip thorn in Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) side.
  • Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI), the country's only satellite radio provider.
  • Jamba (NASDAQ:JMBA), the parent of the Jamba Juice smoothie chain.

I want to counter his bearish theses on these stocks individually, but let me begin by throwing out a table.


2008 EPS

2009 (est.)

2010 (est.)





Sirius XM








Source: Yahoo! Finance.

There's a lot of red ink between those three companies, but compare this year's column to last year's wider deficits. Analysts see all three companies posting bottom-line improvement, even during a bone-crushing recession.

If these were really the "worst-run companies" of 2009, wouldn't you expect losses to expand? All three companies are apparently doing a few things right, especially since Wall Street sees even narrower shortfalls come 2010.

Rothbort argues that AMD has missed the boat on the shift to smartphones (and other small pocket-sized computing devices). He's right, but AMD hasn't made it this far in the ring with Intel by simply playing it safe.

Sirius XM may have been a great company to diss in 2008. But it's almost laughable to single it out in 2009, after it secured bankruptcy-averting financing from Liberty Capital (NASDAQ:LCAPA). Better yet, Sirius is currently barreling toward positive operating cash flow.

"The strategy of giving large deals to big-name stars such as Howard Stern and Chris 'Mad Dog' Russo doesn't really seem to have paid off," Rothbort argues, but I think he's wrong. Sirius may have paid a lot for Stern, but if the then-smaller Sirius hadn't inked Stern to a five-year deal,  we probably never would have seen a Sirius/XM merger in the first place -- which was last year's ultimate payoff for both companies.

Rothbort's knocks on Jamba also fall short.

"The problem with Jamba is its lack of a full menu," he writes. "Other than a few baked goods, it only serves juice and juice blends."

Really? Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) is a $15 billion beverage specialist. Some would even argue that it lost its mojo when it tried to expand its menu with warm breakfast sandwiches. Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) is another company that does well with its limited menu; rivals have come undone when they try to be the jack cheese of all trades.

In the end, these three companies may not be at their best at the moment, but they certainly aren't at the market's worst.

What do you think is the worst-run company of 2009? Let the comment box below be your nomination tool.

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick and a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Starbucks is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, except for Jamba. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.