The Motley Fool's readers have spoken, and I have heeded their cries. After months of pointing out CEO gaffes and faux pas, I've decided to make it a weekly tradition to also point out corporate leaders who are putting the interests of shareholders and the public first, and are generally deserving of praise from investors. For reference, here's my previous selection.
This week, I say duplication be damned! I'm going to double-up on this series for the first time ever and yet again highlight Lenovo (NASDAQOTH:LNVGY) CEO Yang Yuanqing for his sector-topping performance and absolutely top-notch charitable giving.
Kudos to you, Mr. Yuanqing
You know there has to be something special about this CEO if I'm highlighting him twice in the past 14 months -- and Yuanqing lives up to every bit of the hype!
As you might have suspected, the PC sector is an absolute mess. Rapid growth in smartphones and tablets is removing the need for individuals to purchase a laptop or PC in their home, and sales are eroding faster than many global manufacturers can say "earnings warning."
The downdraft in PC sales prompted Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) to completely revamp its product line toward the cloud while shedding 29,000 workers in order to reduce its annual expenses by $3.5 billion. The story has been very similar with Dell (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN), which is betting heavily on a favorable vote from shareholders that will allow the company to be taken private by Michael Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners for $13.75 a share plus a $0.13 special dividend.
Lenovo hasn't been able to completely escape the weakness apparent in the PC sector, but through innovative new offerings and competitive pricing, it's been able to dramatically outperform its peers. According to research firms Gartner and IDC, Lenovo's PC shipments shrank by 0.6% to 1.4% (depending on which source you choose). By comparison, Dell saw its PC shipments shrink by anywhere from 3.9% to 4.2% while HP saw an even worse 4.8% to 7.7% dip in shipments. The results were even more dismal for Acer, which saw PC shipments fall by more than 32%!
If you read through Lenovo's annual report, you'll get a completely different and far better picture. For the full year, Lenovo reported PC shipments rose 10.2% compared to an industrywide decline of 8%. Furthermore, Lenovo delivered a 15% increase in sales to $34 billion thanks in part to rapid growth in its non-PC sales (i.e., smartphone sales), and saw its global market share top HP for the No. 1 spot. Even Lenovo's desktop PC sales even held their own, coming in flat versus an industrywide decline of 12.2%! Practically everywhere you look, Lenovo was outperforming!
A step above his peers
The legacy of Yuanqing extends far beyond just his incredible outperformance with Lenovo and its shareholders' and employees' pocketbooks.
If you go back exactly 10 years, to September 2003, when PC sales were really ramping up, Lenovo would have returned shareholders a nominal 126% share price gain. Factoring in dividends, according to Yahoo! Finance, and this gain would have spiked to more than 770%! "How have HP and Dell done over that same period?" one might wonder. HP shares are up just a nominal 8% and a split-adjusted 24% over the past decade while Dell shares have plummeted by a nominal 60%, or a split-adjusted 59%. In short, Lenovo is running circles around its PC peers.
These big gains don't come without incredible perks for its global employees, either. We know for a fact by just looking at benefit-generous companies like Google that employees love unique perks, and that a happy employee is a productive employee. But, when push comes to shove, nothing tends to motivate employees more than a cash bonus. For a second straight year, Yuanqing has decided to forgo his bonus and split it with Lenovo's 10,000-some employees.
Unlike last year where Yuanqing was due a $3 million bonus, his outperformance this year entitled him to $3.25 million. Instead of taking this bonus, Yuanqing wanted to show his appreciation for each employee and shared his bonus among his employees. Based on the math, each employee will be receiving about $325 a piece -- an incredible sum for many of Lenovo's Chinese employees who earn an average of $300-$350 per month!
If you're curious what the difference is between a Lenovo's outperfomance and HP and Dell's underperformance, it's all in the bonuses and happiness of its workforce!
Two thumbs up
I already designated Yang Yuanqing as an incredible CEO last year after sharing his bonus with his employees and climbing to the No. 2 PC market share in the world during a very tough year for PC sales, so you can imagine how I feel about him now that he's sharing his bonus for a second straight year and has pushed Lenovo to the No. 1 market share in global PC sales. A CEO who shows gratitude to the workforce is a CEO that's going to retain top-tier talent and push his or her business to the top. Yuanqing is doing just that, and deserves yet another round of thumbs up from me!
Fool contributor Sean Williams owns shares of Dell, but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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