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"Every year I go through this exercise of trying to determine who should be the worst CEO, and who the runners up should be, and every year I anguish over it," said Mr. Greenberg. "I screen for bad performers looking at stock prices overlaid with various financial metrics."
Worst CEO of the Year:Michael Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch
Abercrombie is the only non-mining/natural resources company to land in the bottom 25 of the Standard & Poor's 500 for the last one and three years. The company has had seven straight quarters of same-store sales declines, highlighted by an 11.7% drop in overall revenues last quarter vs. an 8.7% gain a year earlier. As for margins, at 5.9% last quarter, or roughly half they were a year ago, it appears the only way Abercrombie can lure customers is by ripping prices to shreds.
Runners Up:Eddie Lampert, Sears
Since Lampert became CEO, the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 and the SPDR retail index -- not that it matters, because his ESL Investments is the largest investor. The real story is in sales growth trends, which continue to deteriorate.
Clarence Otis, Darden
When people talk of Darden, they can't help but focus on its performance or lack thereof -- performance so unappetizing that activist, Barington Capital, recently issued an 84-page report focused largely on how poorly Darden has done relative to its peers. Otis says he's confident that the trend will reverse in fiscal 2014, and maybe it will. The question is whether it can be done profitably considering that operating margins have been shrinking.