This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

One CEO Belongs in the Outhouse, Another in the Penthouse

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I love TheStreet's Brian Sozzi. In fact, he might be the most refreshing mind/personality on Wall Street. In fact, Sozzi alone more than justifies the cost of a Real Money subscription. Dig a free 14-day trial and you'll see what I mean.

However, for a moment, I thought Sozzi had lost his mind on Starbucks (SBUX - Get Report).

When I saw him posting pictures of empty pastry displays at Starbucks' stores I was taken aback. Almost offended. Starbucks isn't Sears Holdings (SHLD - Get Report).

While Sozzi might suggest I'm letting love and personal attraction get in the way of good sense, I, as somebody who has written about emotional investing in Apple (AAPL) at $700, disagree.

Must Read: Jim Cramer's Top Stock Picks: AAL HIMX SBUX AVT

If there was ever a CEO beyond reproach, it's Howard Schultz at Starbucks.

I'll broadcast what actually is -- thankfully -- a sensible take on SBUX from Sozzi at the end of this article, but first let's compare statements from Schultz and his (apologies if you spit your drink through your nose when you read this) peer Sears CEO Eddie Lampert.

Starting with Lampert, who, within the context of ranking corporate leaders, belongs in the outhouse. Not just any old outhouse, but one of those germ-ridden portables they set up at state fairs or outdoor concerts. The kind where there's no toilet paper left after ...

Anyhow, here's a portion of what Lampert had to say the other day at the Sears corporate blog in a post with a title that would make a dog chase its tail -- Are the new ideas about how retail is changing really new?:

... we launched a major transformation of Sears and Kmart years ago because we saw then that people had fundamentally and permanently changed how they shop as a result of the internet, social networking and mobile devices ... we ... have invested such a high proportion of our companys resources into innovations like the Shop Your Way membership program and our buy online, pick up in store programs, which are the foundation of our Integrated Retail strategy.
When we were among the first to pioneer these ideas, many people outside of our company found them revolutionary. Many others questioned what we were doing. Today, changes like these are what people expect everywhere they shop.

If I could live in perpetual hallucination like that, I'd be set. In fact, I might invite Lampert to go shrooming with me this weekend.

On the flip side, here's some rhetoric (using the term to mean art form, not hollow, unpersuasive B.S.), from Schultz:

Holiday 2013 was the first in which many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers experienced in-store foot traffic give way to online shopping in a major way ... As our solid traffic growth and record Q1 results demonstrate, Starbucks unique combination of physical and digital assets positions us as one of the very few consumer brands with a national and global footprint to benefit from the seismic shift underway.

If you pay any attention to retail at all -- and, clearly, Lampert thinks you don't -- you immediately notice the striking contextual and intellectual distinctions between the two sets of statements.

Shop Your Way has been -- and I think we can clarify this as an objective statement -- a failure.

Did it ever dawn on Lampert that riding the hind end of trends set by other companies, particularly (AMZN - Get Report), might not be the proper way forward for Sears? That it's simply not the tonic necessary to revive the pathetic sector of retail Sears has played a major role in decimating. That, if it hasn't worked after all of this time, maybe it's not as forward-looking, innovative and "revolutionary" as he thinks it is.

Meantime, Starbucks devised and has, with wild success, implemented truly impressive efforts that have been in the works for a while. So when Schultz speaks of an "inflection point" in retail today, don't be fooled -- he was thinking about it, really hard, yesterday. But he wasn't merely thinking, he was acting accordingly. Crafting solutions appropriate for his company's set of potential problems.

The roots of Starbucks' mobile and digital efforts date back to 2008 -- at least -- and the efforts of its former CIO Stephen Gillett. Gillett brought Starbucks' current Chief Digital Officer, Adam Brotman, on board as the company's mobile efforts lifted off.

That's transformation. Innovation. Revolutionary.

Pardon my bluntness, Eddie Lampert, but be quiet. And I'll tell you to be quiet every day from now until you step down from a one-time national treasure and put somebody in charge who has a clue.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
AMZN $503.96 2.70%
SBUX $54.92 -0.40%
SHLD $15.04 0.20%
AAPL $93.65 -0.66%
FB $101.93 0.92%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 15,660.18 -254.56 -1.60%
S&P 500 1,829.08 -22.78 -1.23%
NASDAQ 4,266.8370 -16.7550 -0.39%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs