Article updated with news of Netflix CEO 2012 compensation
NEW YORK (
) -- From the Arab Spring and the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in the first half of the year to the escalating European debt crisis and the U.S. sovereign debt downgrade in the second half, there was plenty of macro-economic events that drove the stock prices lower in 2011.
Still, there were plenty of examples of management hubris and poor judgment among Wall Street's movers and shakers that destroyed stock value this year.
We asked our readers who they thought destroyed the most value in 2011 in a
CEO Mitch Gold got a third of the 180 votes, although Congress was a close second for the role it played in creating uncertainty and volatility in the markets.
Our facebook followers also chimed in with their thoughts on who destroyed the most value, many refusing to stop with just one name.
: High frequency traders. Short sellers. Politicians and world leaders. Lazy Greeks. Freddie and Fannie. Frank and Dodd. Shall I continue?
The Greeks, Italians, Merkel, Sarkozy, and American politicians.
With no dearth of names, picked 10 that destroyed the most stock value in 2011.
We list them in order of stock declines, starting with the lowest. Leave us your comments on who else you think should have been on the list as well as who among these names did the worst damage.
By popular demand from
readers, we decided to include Congress in the list. For truly, if you want someone to blame for the extreme volatility in your portfolio, you need to look no further than Washington.
Congress is set to end 2011 with an approval rating of 11%, the lowest in the history of Gallup surveys. That's after a year of unusual brinksmanship in Washington. Congress fought bitterly before lifting the debt ceiling in August, very nearly causing the U.S. to technically default on its debt.
That led S&P to downgrade U.S. debt. "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy."
But even that did not succeed in shaming Washington. The super committee - charged with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by November also failed as both parties refused to part with long-held positions on taxes and entitlement spending.
Worst of all, no one expects political climate to change until the 2012 Presidential elections. Which means your portfolio remains vulnerable to the whims of politicians.
is struggling to reinvent itself from a dial-up Internet company to a world-class content company.
With shares down 36% year-to-date, CEO Tim Armstrong hasn't found a way to boost traffic on the company's network of sites despite several high-profile acquisitions this year, including picking up
The Huffington Post
for $315 million and
for a reported $25 million.
One of the largest shareholders of AOL, Starboard, is now arguing that the company's strategy of investing in web content businesses is not paying off, according to a
Wall Street Journal
Starboard argues that investors ascribe no value to the firm's media businesses because of its investments in "money-losing growth initiatives" such as Patch, a network of local news sites.
"Over the last two years AOL has significantly reduced costs, sold non-core assets, made significant investments for our future, and also recently repurchased over 10% of outstanding shares. AOL has a clear strategy and operational plan to provide our consumers and customers with exceptional value, which we believe will lead to the creation of shareholder value," the company said in a statement, responding to Starboard's attacks.
CEO Leo Apotheker was shown the door after just eleven months on the job.
The stock was already struggling from sales shortfalls and months of inaction.
The lofty $11 billion price tag for U.K. software maker Autonomy raised serious questions about Apotheker's judgment, fueling chatter that he lacked the vision needed to steer the tech heavyweight.
But the final straw was Apotheker's plan to ditch WebOS devices such as the TouchPad and potentially spin off its PC business to buyers or investors, a plan that was not greeted warmly by analysts, investors or the board.
Apotheker was quickly replaced by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who decided to keep the PC business after all.
But Apotheker will receive $7.2 million in severance over the next year and a half, along with $3.6 million in accelerated vested restricted stock and a $2.4 million bonus for his 11-month tenure at the company.
Shares are down 40% year to date.
, not long ago the stock-market darling, has seen its shares plunge 60% after a series of management decisions backfired.
The company's decision to raise DVD prices by 60% resulted in 800,000 customers ending their subscription with the movie-rental company. Another proposal to spin off its DVD-by-mail business into a separate company and website called Qwikster, died almost as soon as it was conceived after an uproar from consumers.
The brand has been tarnished somewhat as consumers, disgruntled about the price hike, complain that the streaming does not have enough content. And investors are not confident about its aggressive international expansion plans.
CEO Reed Hastings admitted at a recent
conference to some form of hubris, saying the company got overconfident, but is not losing sleep over the slip-ups.
"In three to five years, all people will care about is, 'Did we succeed in streaming?' So we are not losing too much sleep over it," he said.
"If you fundamentally believe Internet video will change the world in 20 years, we are the leading player. ... As long as we don't shoot ourselves in the foot again, we should be good," he said in jest.
According to a recent
, Hastings will receive an annual salary of $500,000 on top of stock option allowance of $1.5 million in the coming year. In 2011, Hastings earned $500,000 and received an annual stock option allowance of $3 million, so it looks like the blunders have cost him.
It would be unfair to blame Brian Moynihan for all of
Bank of America's
problems. After all he inherited a disaster from his predecessor Ken Lewis and not even two years at the helm as CEO is enough to resolve all of the legacy issues of Countrywide Financial, which the bank acquired in 2008.
Still, Moynihan makes the list because he failed to manage shareholder expectations in 2011, partly because he himself underestimated the extent of its woes.
First, the bank promised a modest dividend increase in 2010, only to have the Fed reject its dividend proposal in 2011, hurting the stock early in the year.
inability to accurately estimate its likely mortgage-related losses also disappointed investors repeatedly.
Analysts have all but given up trying to come up with a reasonable estimate, as the bank continues to be slammed by
As the stock plunged to a third of its book value amid concerns that it would have to raise more capital, Moynihan repeatedly said the bank was not in need of capital, only to follow up with a series of moves that boost capital, with shareholders getting diluted in the process.
The biggest bungle up, however, was
the $5 monthly debit fee , which triggered a nationwide backlash, with thousands of customers threatening to pull out of the bank.
It didn't help matters any when Moynihan said the bank had a "right to make a profit." True, he was only thinking of the bank's shareholders. "I have an inherent duty as a CEO of a publicly owned company to get a return for my shareholders," Moynihan told
But clearly customers do not like being second place and had their way, with the bank having to drop its proposal in the end.
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis
Jim Balsillie (in picture above) and Mike Lazaridis, the co-CEOS of Blackberry-maker
Research in Motion
have taken a lot of heat for
the poor performance of the company all around in 2011.
Between a string of
earnings disappointments, product delays, steadily eroding market share I smartphones and a three-day service outage that infuriated customers, it is no wonder that shares are down more than 75% in 2011.
The CEOs also presided over job cuts in the summer. If it's any consolation, the CEOs both said they will take only an annual salary of $1 this year.
poll of the
worst tech CEOs in 2011, they came in second place after Reed Hastings of Netflix.
are down 75% this year, as price wars on solar panels, dependency on government subsidies, and uncertainty around demand from Europe have put pressure on the stock.
Chief Executive Officer Rob Gillette was fired in October, though the company would not give a reason for his departure. The interim CEO Michael Ahearn, who was incidentally the company's former CEO, said "a change in leadership" was needed.
Critics accused Gillette of expanding too aggressively.
First Solar has been a favorite target of the shorts.
One of the hallmarks of the short-seller attack -- at least the part of the bear case not based on industry fundamentals -- against First Solar has always been the mass defection of senior executives, which has been a regular repeat occurrence in recent years at the highest ranks of the company.
CEO Mitch Gold was voted the
worst biotech CEO in
Gold, actually voted the best biotech CEO in 2010, fell from investor graces after the company said its prostate cancer drug
Provenge sales were growing slower than expected because doctors are concerned about getting reimbursed for the expensive drug.
Dendreon pulled its 2011 Provenge forecast of $350 million to $400 million and said to expect "modest" growth in the third and fourth quarters.
Meanwhile shares of Dendreon are down 78% for the year, as new competitors have emerged in the market that are easier to use and just as effective.
, the iconic photo and imaging company, is struggling to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
Shares are down a whopping 88% in 2011 as investors grew concerned that bankruptcy might be inevitable for a company that is now tapping into its revolving credit line to finance its operations.
CEO Antonio Perez maintains that the company will return to profitability in 2012. Kodak has had only one profitable year since 2004.
Kodak has struggled to gain momentum in its digital camera business as its printing business flailed, prompting calls . The company has highlighted asset sales as a way to survive a widening loss and cash burn -- along with new financing arrangements.
Kodak is trying to sell its online photo unit, but
doubts remain on whether it will be able to fetch a good price for it as the company is selling from a position of weakness.
The company is also
litigating some of its digital patents . Perez said in July that "we remain confident that the patents being litigated will be found to be valid and infringed."
Jon "I don't know where the money is" Corzine, obviously figures in the list for driving
head, governor of New Jersey and U.S. Senator, took over as CEO of MF Global in 2010 in a bid to build it into another Goldman.
Investors certainly put a lot of faith in him at first. In a bond offering in August, the company said it will pay
a higher interest rate if Corzine left the company to take a U.S. government post.
But Corzine's outsized $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt proved to be its undoing. As contagion spread to Italy and Spain, concern over MF's exposure to the region rose and customer confidence collapsed, forcing the company into bankruptcy.
Press reports following the bankruptcy said Corzine stubbornly stuck to the risky bets despite dissent from the board and the company's risk managers. In a testimony before Congress, Corzine took responsibility for the trades, but said he had done so with the board's approval.
He, however, would not take responsibility for the $1.2 billion that has since been found missing from customer segregated accounts. In testimonies before Congress, he has repeatedly said that he did not "intentionally" authorize any transfer of customer funds or direct them to be used in any other inappropriate way.
--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York
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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.