The new man on the job? George Buckley, former CEO of recreational products company Brunswick
Buckley had been at Brunswick for about five and a half years and did what I'd call a rather respectable job. Not only has the stock risen about two and a half times over its position at the time he took over (handily trouncing the S&P), but he posted a pretty solid record of increasing margins and improving returns on capital after a difficult first year on the job.
He was also the chairman of the board at Brunswick, and the company seems to have gotten pretty high marks for its corporate governance policies. His compensation struck me as basically pretty fair, though there was a large restricted stock grant last year that I believe will largely go unvested.
For 3M, I see this as a solid pick. Buckley has an engineering doctorate in his background, and while that doesn't make a day-to-day difference (it's not as though he'll be designing new products himself), I think it could make a cultural difference over the long haul. What's more, he apparently has a reputation for being quite cost-conscious, though not at the expense of new product development. And that should fit in nicely with some of the progress that McNerney made in his brief tenure.
The only beef I really have here is that Buckley was named both CEO and chairman of the board. That's not a big deal, as he held both titles at Brunswick. But I consider separating the two jobs to be a small mark in favor of a company.
For 3M investors, I'd argue that this hiring should remove a small risk-based discount from the stock. That said, I don't see any reason to expect any large fundamental changes in the company -- at least not overnight.
So if you liked the company before, you should still like it now. If you didn't like the company before, I don't imagine this would really change your mind in any big way.
Personally, I like the company and the stock, and I'm hoping for a long and lucrative tenure for the new CEO.
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