9. Merck (MRK) -- can these guys get a little bold, at least? Can they even attempt to bring out shareholder value? Did they get anything at all from that Schering-Plough merger? Was there any gain there? What the heck is going on at this company that it seems, with everything they try, they can no longer pull anything off? Also, why the heck did they hire the chief scientist of Amgen (AMGN), of all places, when they got rid of the previous underperformer? Amgen? That's about the only biotech that hasn't produced anything new in years, hence that company's acquisition of Onyx. How could Merck be so obtuse? I kept thinking they Merck have to do something to bring out value -- perhaps split up the company and sell is animal-health division, like Pfizer (PFE) did. One day they will. But Merck may actually be the only major pharmaceutical company that's doing nothing at all to create value. Maybe it's anti-value-creation? One day value will be unlocked, but it is discouraging, and the Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust finally threw in the towel on this one.
10. Oracle (ORCL) -- I'm so glad that CEO Larry Ellison is still paying himself $96 million for doing all of that heavy lifting that's gotten Oracle shareholders almost nothing in return. Here's a company that everyone still loves, even as it keeps missing quarter after quarter. It obviously has become so desperate about its lack of a cloud-computing business that it had to partner with Salesforce.com (CRM), the same company it's been dissing privately for years. At one point, Oracle, like Microsoft (MSFT) and like Intel (INTL), was a great company. Now it's just taking up space and paying people fortunes to work there. Oracle shareholders of the world unite and get on the payroll, so you can make fortunes like everyone else there. At least management has finally stopped saying that Sun Micro was a good acquisition.
That's about all the spleen-venting I can do in one day. I can't wait to savage the additional underperformers that Real Money contributors enter in Columnist Conversation.
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