A star CEO makes all the difference

Performance in the corner office has made these companies into leaders.

By Jim Cramer Mar 21, 2013 9:06AM

thestreet logo

CEO Photodisc Getty ImagesWe do not talk enough about execution. It is the mother's milk of profits, and in an era when ETFs are the preferred method of trading, the whole notion of long-term management performance gets lost in the shuffle.

And then you will get a couple of days when management's great work just shines through. Wednesday was one of those days. Just think about how many terrific CEOs and their amazing deeds we heard from or read about. Just think about how hard these people are working for you and how they are delivering for you.

We know that Ken Powell is delivering a level of performance at General Mills (GIS) that is astounding. Think about all of the obstacles that he's overcome: higher commodity prices, a sluggish consumer, endless buy-one-get-one couponing. And what has he done? He's given you nothing less than consistent sleep-at-night earnings reports like the one we got this morning, endless dividend increases and tremendous share-take. Powell is everything you can ask of a CEO.

Or how about Stuart Miller at Lennar (LEN)? It's not easy to follow the towering legacy of Stuart's dad, Leonard. But Stuart's late father has to be smiling somewhere about what this executive has done in the toughest housing market since the Depression. His beautiful quarter shows that he's building more homes, making more money per home and accumulating a land bank that will drive earnings for years and years to come.

Then there's Laura Alber, the remarkable CEO of Williams-Sonoma (WSM), who has steered this high-end housewares company onto perhaps the best growth path of anyone in the industry. This multi-cylinder company, which includes Pottery Barn and West Elm, is hitting on every one of them. The expectations were so high here, and she crushed them. I think we are in the early innings of the growth for Williams-Sonoma, as Alber has taken a company with electric merchandise but a stodgy reputation and turned it into a high-performance vehicle.

Then there is Al Walker, the quiet executive behind Anadarko (APC) who had to follow in the huge footsteps of the towering Jim Hackett, and who continues that exploration-and-production company's reputation as being the best wildcatter in the world. This announcement of a gigantic new find in the Gulf of Mexico is breathtaking and shows there's still plenty of oil left if you know where to look for it.

Finally, there is Greg Wasson, the CEO behind the remarkable renaissance at Walgreen (WAG), who is not only reinventing the drugstore format but who just inked an amazing deal with AmerisourceBergen (ABC) that raises estimates for the company while cutting prices for generics for the consumers.

That's incredible. No wonder we have had multiple upgrades of the company's stock since the announcement of this breathtaking transaction. It's totally transformational and comes right on the heels of what now looks like a brilliant merger with Alliance Boots, a deal that, candidly, I questioned, and I now admit I questioned incorrectly.

Sure, you can keep buying ETFs. Yes you can say that sector is all that matters. But these fabulous executives are delivering amazing performance and should be celebrated every time we think about the so-called "big issues" such as Cyprus, the Fed or the budget deficit. They have their eye on the ball -- don't take your eye off of them just because of European woes or Fed worries. You are liable to miss a big fat pitch that you can hit right into the upper deck.




Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and has no positions  in stocks mentioned.  



More from TheStreet.com

Mar 21, 2013 9:52AM
He said the same things about angelo mozila at countrywide and eddie lampert at sears --- basically cramer will gyrate on any ceo who agrees to appear on his nighlty  informercial .........
Mar 21, 2013 9:45AM

"""Think about all of the obstacles that HE'S overcome"""


yes, it's all about the CEO.  the large number of regular people working in every company have NOTHING to do with it. 


a smart CEO lets the people do what they know needs to get done.  he doesn't get in the way, and provides the tools the people need to do their jobs affectively

Mar 21, 2013 12:01PM
My apoligy to Limo Pat ............ I thought you had not been showing up due to your split personality disorder being publicly displayed but now I learn you have been in Israel putting the wrong fuel in the presidential limo.......... Good Job Sgt. Weiner.
Mar 21, 2013 12:03PM

Has the Sarge /Taxi Boy morphed into a new name ?

Don't see him - just the usual suspects

Mar 21, 2013 12:20PM

Is there any truth to the claim that silver supply is very low due to Apple/others use it for their products ?

I haven't researched it but you hear these claims - makes me wonder

Mar 21, 2013 9:25AM
I completely agree - a CEO can make or break a company.  This is true regardless of the size of the company or what business they are in. 

If employees are confident in the CEO and his leadership abilities, if they buy into his vision for the future and his path to get there, morale stays up, productivity increases and people conduct themselves with a purpose that is generally beneficial to those around them.... Pretty much the opposite of what happens when Obama is in charge.
Mar 21, 2013 9:46AM

It all starts at the top.  If the top guy is committed the rest will follow.  Good leadership I believe begins with commitment.  If the top guy builds a big tent and everyone feels welcome survival is a possibility.  If he demonizes half his employees nothing will get accomplished.  Get it?

Mar 21, 2013 12:24PM

Hmm- I sense the presence of a lurking loony,  lefty about ?


A sudden presence of a loss , losing,  a certain ineptitude,  a dissatisfaction with life, an envy of successful folks,

Getting stronger -------



4 the Love of OTHERS Money

Come out , come out , wherever you are ---

They fell from the stars---

California,  they say is the name of their star !

Mar 21, 2013 12:01PM

Evil - you know both of your posts are speaking in a wide generality, of course ?

I think the best companies , the ones you guys invest in , promote from within, recognize talent and promote.

When you describe corp. America as really running America,  to a degree , I agree with you . some , even many,  but not most . For example,  GE is a perfect example of a company running America, since you brought it up.

Obam'as number one company, owns this rag , NBC , MSNBC , etc , etc , etc. They pimp Obuma 24/7/365 - kill anything conservative and in return GE gets to pay zero corporate taxes some years and really reduced taxes other years .

Is that a good example ?


Mar 21, 2013 3:34PM

uhh moron - I get that comprehension is not your thing . Better to rant over successful people earning it, however  trying reading - lets' see----

Hey, 3 posts down !

You can count to three , correct ?

Surprise -- I DID feel a lurking sense of futility, doom , disaster , FAILURE - Knew there was a lefty , douche bag cretin somewhere nearby and surprise ---

VUX face shows up !




Mar 21, 2013 12:06PM

Hearing lots of talk about Silver ?

big demand due to electronics , blah , blah.

I won't buy any (or gold) but just askin---

Mar 21, 2013 11:29AM

Hey did I miss anything ?

Lets see -- the usual evil,  rich bashing, moved onto CEO's

 YES , every CEO is a huge waste of talent , money, complete waste.

If ONLY they gave one of you dolts,  the reins !

LOL (ooops)

You people have no idea what a real CEO actually DOES.

It's incredible the naïveté, the limited vision, the immaturity.

Let me see if I have this right -- ALL the successful companies that you cretins invest in , follow , lap up the quarterly numbers , they are run by the average workers ? Not the CEO's ?

The bad companies , losers, they are run by the CEO'S ?

MY GOD what stupidity !!!


Re ; Kramer - We ALL know Kramer a useful idiot. The monkey from the LA times selected as many winners as Kramer did. No one takes him seriously but really the DAILY bashing , teeth grinding , ranting by some cretins on here is incredible !

Why , if not from the rage of losing in life , underachieving,  a jealous rage, what ELSE could it be ?

Why hate on an obvious idiot ? Because he's a successful idiot ? 

Since you all read his sheet , follow his every move , recite his quotes from 3 years ago, hold his every quote accountable -- doesn't that make YOU equal idiots ?

If he's such a dolt , WHY hang on his every word ?

LOL (ooops - sorry again)


Mar 21, 2013 10:43AM

We are having a follow up to yesterday's late afternoon selloff, nothing more, nothing less...Manipulators tend to do this and the goal of course is to drop this market triple digits today...Just be careful...All we can do is try to minimize the damage...We understand it is still early but things do not look good down here...Housing numbers were positive but good news are irrelevant when crooks take over things....More a little later.

Mar 21, 2013 12:00PM
Beware of sucker's rallies folks...We will have them through out the day probably....And as usual they will save their best for closing time...We will see.
Mar 21, 2013 8:49PM
Like we said earlier, at 1320 hrs they started to accelerate and after a couple of small sucker's rallies to try to lure more people into buying they pulled the trigger at about 1530 hrs, and that's all she wrote...When manipulators take over on and off the floor there is very little anyone can do....They were shooting for triple digits down and they were almost there...We call it as we see it folks....Oh well, and by all the talk after the close looks like they are anxious to repeat tomorrow...We will see.
Mar 21, 2013 1:28PM
At about 1320 hrs manipulators called to accelerate the selling so we are approaching triple digits....No big surprise, they are in charge on and off the floor...All we can do is try to minimize the damage, wont be a pleasant afternoon...We will see.
Mar 21, 2013 10:59AM

Let's get something Straight.....9 out 10 CEOs are NOT....And I will repeat NOT !!

Worth their SALT...


Particularily in American Companies, They don't overcome many of the problems they are faced with and they have a battery of people UNDERNEATH them to accomplish, clearing up those problems..

They are way overpaid by MOST World standards, in the multiples of hundreds of times, of what their lower production workers are making that actually produce and keep the company running..

If the workers don't produce, normally you can find fault in the lower and mid-management operations of doing business...Usually Mid-management that are way over their heads..

It's not a Union or non-Union thing when Companies fail....It falls back on upper management and the CEO, along with the Boards that allow it to happen..


The Strangest part....Is they are rewarded FOR BAD BEHAVIOR...Only in America and very few other places;...Do they get great packages and "golden parachutes" for doing a "bad job"...

And then they waltz away to usually start again all over...With a handsome agreement to come on board somewhere else....

I have lived with one CEO, have known a few others and been involved with a lot of upper and middle management....There are a plenty of Good ones....But unfortunately there are more Bad ones....That are not  " WORTH THEIR SALT ."

Mar 21, 2013 11:47AM

Ya I've experienced the difference in both bad and good bosses.  I would say the general pattern is original founder of a business is a good boss, he remembers what it was like before success but is very driven and motivated.  If you can work for a 1st generation business owner you will find it to be a positive experience.  2nd generation usually can run the company well enough but they have that sense of entitlement and start to view people as a means to their ends.  3rd generation tends to be as worthless as they come.  The problem with Corporate America is that it appears to be aristocracy that runs these big companies and really the government too.  So it appears that performance does not factor into compensation these days, just who owes who the biggest favor. 

So if I vote for this bill you'll put me on the board for 5 years making what????

Mar 21, 2013 1:04PM

Strangely I remember well the Salt comparison of the Legions....

In that part of the World, Salt, wheat, spices and in general other commodities were of value..

Gold and Jewels were mosly important to the Aristocracy or anyone that could steal it...


I'm NOT on HERE to BASH Cramer, ALL CEOs, nor Obama.....

There are plenty of "good" CEOs,,,But most are way overpaid...IMO.

The Salt comparisom applies to FARM ANIMALS, also...Especially if you have Livestock that is "not gaining weight" or producing...Carrying their weght so to speak...

Cramer "can't bash" them too often, because he has to interview and talk to them often, and then in many cases support their Companies....Doing HIS job...


Unfortunately "MOST FOUNDERS" don't run their Companies like they use to, MANY are dead;

Companies go out and hire "hatchet weilders" or the latest and greatest, high paid smucks SOMETIMES...

It takes away the sentimentality...And some Founders have gotten old, turn the operations over to their Children or someone else they have "groomed"....ie; Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger.. 

Many have a lot of second thoughts about leaving their Babies or Berks.??

We all know of Good CEOs and Managers...They normally do make for a well run Company, and usually a "Good investment."  

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

104 rated 1
252 rated 2
457 rated 3
639 rated 4
495 rated 5
538 rated 6
704 rated 7
503 rated 8
350 rated 9
140 rated 10

Top Picks

TAT&T Inc9



Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.