Green Mountain appoints product-savvy Coke executive as CEO

WATERBURY, Vt., Tue Nov 20, 2012 – Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. named Coca-Cola Co. executive Brian Kelley as CEO, betting on a product specialist to see it through intensifying competition that has eroded its share of the single-cup coffee market.

Kelley replaces Lawrence Blanford, who over five years grew Green Mountain from a little-known Vermont-based coffee maker to one of the fastest-growing U.S. companies, but whose reputation has been diminished recently by sales misses and questions about the company’s business model and accounting practices.

Green Mountain’s market value has increased five-fold since Blanford, 58, took over from founder Robert Stiller in 2007, but the stock is down more than 40 percent this year.

The company’s shares rose as much as 11 percent to $30.23 in trading on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

Kelley, 51, brings a wealth of experience to Green Mountain, especially in areas where the company has had problems, such as product and supply chain management, analysts said.

“We view the announcement favorably as Kelley’s operations experience at Coke is an area of considerable weakness at Green Mountain,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Astrachan said in a note.

Green Mountain’s growth prospects have moderated since some of the company’s patents related to the design of its K-Cup refills used in its Keurig brewer expired in September, paving the way for a wave of new competition from the likes of Starbucks Inc. and Wal-Mart Inc.

The company, which short-seller David Einhorn last year accused of inflating sales figures, is also the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into accounting and revenue-recognition

Intel CEO Paul Ottelini to step down in May

SANTA CLARA, Calif. Mon Nov 19, 2012 – Intel Corp. said on Monday that CEO Paul Ottelini would retire in May, stepping down from the world’s leading chipmaker at time when it is grappling with weak PC demand as the industry shifts towards mobile computing.

Intel’s board said it would consider internal and external candidates for the CEO position. It said in a statement that it expected the “leadership transition” to last six months.

The company said it would promote three executives to be executive vice presidents. They are Renee James, who is in charge of Intel software; Brian Krzanich, who is COO and also oversees manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, the CFO and director of corporate strategy.

Ottelini, 62, was the fifth CEO of the company, stepping into the post in the second quarter of 2005.

Intel was accustomed to being king of the personal computer market, particularly through its historic “Wintel” alliance with Microsoft Corp, which led to breathtakingly high profit margins and an 80 percent market share.

But in the fast-growing and cut-throat mobile world, Intel is struggling. Its market share is less than 1 percent of smartphones, trailing Qualcomm Inc,. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., ARM Holdings Plc and others.

That leads some investors, who are already concerned about a lackluster global economy, to ask if Intel’s invincibility has come to an end and whether the company’s potential for profit and revenue growth may come back down to earth.

Shares of Intel were halted early on Monday.

RadioShack CEO steps down as company tries to hasten revival

FORT WORTH, Texas, Wed Sep 26, 2012 – U.S. consumer electronics chain RadioShack Corp. said CEO James Gooch will step down effective immediately, as the company seeks to revive its flagging fortunes.

“The board decided that the timing was right,” said company spokesman Eric Bruner.

“Moving forward with the decision sooner rather than later will help establish the right leadership to address the company’s challenges,” Bruner said.

The change comes at a time when RadioShack is struggling with low margins and vacancies in key executive positions.

The company, whose shares were up 2 percent in pre-market trading, reported an unexpected loss for the second quarter and suspended its dividend to help pay down debt.

RadioShack, once famous as a source of parts and tools for radio and electronics enthusiasts, has been increasingly focusing on selling low-margin phone calling plans and smartphones, particularly the Apple Inc. iPhone.

The company, which has a market value of about $255 million, was bumped off the S&P MidCap 400 index this week as its market capitalization was too small for it to be included in the S&P 1500. The shares have lost nearly three quarters of their value this year.

RadioShack said its board was conducting a search for a successor and would not rule out internal candidates. CFO Dorvin Lively will be the acting CEO.

Gooch, 44, joined RadioShack as CFO in 2006 and became CEO in May 2011.

RadioShack’s stock was up 2 percent at $2.61 in premarket trading.

Stec CEO resigns on insider trading charges

SANTA ANA, Calif ., Tue Sep 18, 2012 – Solid-state drive maker Stec Inc. said its founder and chief executive of 22 years, Manouch Moshayedi, resigned due to a civil complaint filed against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in July.

Mark Moshayedi, the outgoing CEO’s brother and the company’s COO, will take over as interim CEO, the company said in a regulatory filing.

The U.S. regulator said in July that it had filed a civil complaint against Stec’s 53-year-old CEO for insider trading after he sold a significant portion of his holdings and shares owned by his brother.

The company had disclosed in 2009 that the SEC was conducting a formal investigation involving trading in the company’s securities.

Manouch Moshayedi will continue to be on the company’s board, Stec said.

Manouch and Mark Moshayedi founded Stec in 1990 and owned about 17 percent of the company’s outstanding common stock as of Dec. 31, 2011, according to the company’s annual report.

The Santa Ana, California-based company’s auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP resigned on Sept.12. Analysts said the breakup could be a fallout of the insider trading charges.

Stec, once a leader in the flash drive storage industry, has seen its sales plunge over the last couple of years as larger players in the hard drive market such as Western Digital Corp. and Seagate Plc have eaten into its share.

Best Buy’s new CEO wants to learn from the front line

NEW YORK, Tue Sep 4, 2012 – Best Buy’s new chief executive, Hubert Joly, will spend much of his first week on the job wearing a blue shirt and working the floor as a salesman at the chain’s stores in Minnesota as the restructuring expert tackles criticism that he lacks retail experience.

Just like any other new employee, Joly will be trained to serve customers, stock items, accept returns and go on calls with Geek Squad agents.

“The last time I worked in a store was in 1975,” Joly, 53, said in an interview with Reuters on Monday, one day before officially taking charge as CEO of the world’s largest consumer electronics chain.

“I want to not learn our businesses from the headquarters,” Joly said, “I want to learn from the front line.”

That’s not to say that he does not already have some plans for Best Buy, which is facing cut-throat competition from the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com, as well as a takeover attempt by founder Richard Schulze.

He said he plans to cut non-salary expenses and woo holiday shoppers with a three-pronged strategy of offering competitive prices, stocking the right amount of hot products and improving customer service. Joly declined to be more specific.

Best Buy could use some improvement in those areas. Last year, it struggled to keep up with online demand and failed to fulfill less than 1 percent of its customers’ online orders during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and the following week.

In 2010, it made a bad bet on pricier 3-D televisions that customers did not embrace.

“There are a few areas where we will strive to do better,” Joly said. “We will not take anything for granted.”

Going forward, Joly also plans to take advantage of Best Buy’s clout with key suppliers by reaching out to them to develop “deeper strategic partnerships.”

“There are different ways to skin a cat in terms of a partnership. It can be exclusive (products), it can be unique shopping experiences, it can be deals, you know, a whole variety of things,” Joly said, without giving more details.

WellPoint CEO Braly steps down, Cannon named interim CEO

INDIANAPOLIS, Wed Aug 29, 2012 – WellPoint Inc. CEO Angela Braly abruptly stepped down from her post on Tuesday following growing investor dissatisfaction with the health insurer’s financial performance.

WellPoint, the No. 2 U.S. health insurer, said it will look at both internal and external candidates for a replacement. Shares in the company rose more than 4 percent in after-hours trading.

John Cannon, the company’s executive vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief public affairs officer, will serve as interim president and CEO, WellPoint said. Lead director Jackie Ward was named non-executive chair.

“We thought the board would provide Ms. Braly with some more time to right this ship but view the executive change as a step in the right direction,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Dave Shove said in a note to clients.

WellPoint still has an uphill battle ahead, with fierce competition among health plans in states like California and Virginia that may not be resolved by year’s end, Shove said.

“Regardless of who is at the helm, we need to see a quarter of clean operations before we get constructive,” he said. “We believe a change at the top is positive, but new leadership will not grow earnings on its own.”

As CEO since 2007, Braly has shepherded WellPoint as the U.S. healthcare system faces one of the biggest transitions in its history, including a new law that will extend coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans and the expansion of private management of government-run health plans Medicare and Medicaid.

More recently, Braly helped orchestrate the company’s planned purchase of Amerigroup Corp. for $4.46 billion, a deal that will nearly double its Medicaid business, managing the U.S. government’s health plan for the poor.

But the company has also made missteps in its expansion, including a proposed rate increase in California that made headlines in early 2010 at the height of a Congressional fight over the healthcare overhaul. Surprising losses from its Medicare plans in northern California weighed on financial results last year.

In its most recent quarterly report, the company cut its full-year profit forecast, saying it was trying to maintain its pricing levels even with greater competitive pressure from rival health plans. Since then, it has been meeting with investors to lay out its strategy for improving performance and the board recently issued a statement in support of the direction taken by management.

“Our Board continues to believe that time will prove the wisdom of potentially transformative actions taken under Angela’s leadership,” Ward said in a statement. “But now is the right time for a leadership change.”

Cannon will help oversee the integration of Amerigroup, whose shareholders have sued over accusations that its advisers at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had a “hopelessly conflicted” role in the company’s sale. Goldman, according to the lawsuit, pushed Amerigroup toward a quick deal with WellPoint over a more lucrative merger with another unnamed company.

Navistar CEO retires; ex-Textron exec is interim CEO

LISLE, Ill. Mon Aug 27, 2012 – Navistar International Corp. CEO Daniel Ustian is retiring, and former Textron Inc. executive Lewis Campbell will replace him immediately as interim CEO, the truck and engine maker said on Monday.

The company, which is struggling to win U.S. regulatory approval for a new generation of diesel engines, also named Troy Clarke as president and chief operating officer. Clarke is currently Navistar’s president of truck and engine operations.

Shares of Navistar, which had shed nearly half of their value in the last six months, rose 3.6 percent to $23.81 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.

“Lewis Campbell is a high-caliber executive who brings to Navistar deep and broad strategic, technical and operational skills and a proven track record of leadership with global industrial companies,” said Michael Hammes, Navistar’s independent lead director.

Campbell, 66, was Textron’s CEO from 1998 to 2009. He previously spent 24 years at General Motors Co. in various executive roles.

For much of the past year, Navistar has been trying to win approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a new diesel engine technology that would lower emissions of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant linked to asthma, without using urea.

P&G CEO’s pay down 6.1 percent after tough year

CINCINNATI, Fri Aug 24, 2012 – Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman and CEO Bob McDonald took home a little less last year after disappointing results that he is trying to reverse with a major overhaul.

McDonald, the leader of the world’s largest household products company since 2009, earned nearly $15.2 million in the year ended in June, down 6.1 percent from $16.19 million in fiscal 2011, according to a filing P&G made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

P&G, whose brands include Pampers, Gillette and Tide, is in the midst of a $10 billion restructuring. On top of that, activist investor William Ackman bought roughly $1.8 billion worth of its stock this summer. While Ackman has not yet pushed for any changes at the company, P&G’s board came out in July in support of McDonald and his turnaround plan.

In June, P&G took the blame for a lack of big new products and not cutting costs fast enough as demand slows in some major markets. McDonald said it would take time to reverse the negative trends and that he expected little improvement in fiscal 2013, which began on July 1.

McDonald’s salary was flat in fiscal 2012 at $1.6 million. With 89 percent of his total pay tied to the company’s performance, his overall payout declined as P&G’s results came in below target. His bonus fell by $200,000, to $2.43 million.

Most of McDonald’s compensation comes in stock and option awards. Their combined value fell 8 percent to $10.85 million.

Shares of P&G were down 0.3 percent at $66.49 in early trading. The shares fell 3.6 percent to $61.25 during fiscal 2012.

Is BlackRock planning for life after Laurence CEO Fink?

NEW YORK, Thu Jul 5, 2012 – After two decades of growth by acquisition, BlackRock Inc. stands unrivaled in size and breadth among asset management firms.
But as CEO Laurence Fink shifts the company’s focus from being an acquirer to operating its businesses, some industry executives, analysts and even employees say BlackRock lacks a clear strategy. Fink has said the firm is done with large acquisitions for now, but has offered little on how it will improve its funds’ middling performance.
A recent spate of high-level departures, one tinged with controversy, and rumors that Fink may leave to take the post of U.S. Treasury Secretary if it is offered to him, have only increased concern about BlackRock’s direction and who will lead it.
More changes in the senior ranks are in the works, including possible new departures, according to people familiar with the situation. The board also is discussing succession planning in case Fink leaves, the sources said.
“I would assume that there is a plan internally, but it is hard to see what it is from the outside,” said Geoff Bobroff, a fund consultant based in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
BlackRock declined to make any executives available for comment for this article. The firm would not comment on its business or talk in detail about its succession plans, but said its board is always focused on talent.
BlackRock’s business is hardly in trouble. It manages $3.68 trillion in assets and dominates much of the investment industry. It is the world’s largest provider of exchange-traded funds, and among the biggest asset managers globally. Many on Wall Street profess faith in Fink, who helped found the firm in 1988 and is its controlling force.

BlackRock also has a number of seasoned executives under Fink. President Robert Kapito is Fink’s heir apparent, according to three people familiar with the situation.
BlackRock is so large that U.S. regulators are considering whether it should be deemed too big to fail, like its rival PIMCO, and receive tighter regulatory oversight.

Goldman’s Blankfein: No plans to relinquish duties

CHICAGO,| Wed Jun 13, 2012 – The chief executive and chairman of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said on Wednesday he has no plans to relinquish his duties running the bank.

Speaking to reporters after a breakfast appearance in Chicago, Lloyd Blankfein quipped: “I’m 57. What am I going to do with the other 60 years of my life?”

Blankfein, who has become a post-bailout lightning rod for critics of Wall Street, said five of his six predecessors left Goldman to accept jobs with the U.S. government, and six died while still heading the firm.

Given his unpopularity on Main Street, Blankfein said, “I’d say the government probably isn’t going to call me … so that leaves staying forever and dying at my desk.”

Blankfein added that leaving the job would be difficult because when it is going well “it’s the best job in the world and you wouldn’t want to leave.”

When it’s going poorly, “You can’t leave because your sense of responsibility won’t let you,” he added.