Do female CEOs bring better results?

The evidence is far from conclusive, but these company leaders have broken the glass ceiling and delivered results.

By InvestorPlace Nov 12, 2009 4:28PM
By James Dlugosch

CEOImagine the day when the glass ceiling for women in business is finally shattered. We may finally know that performance dictates who is in charge of America’s publicly traded corporations.

One money management shop betting on women before that time comes is Naissance Capital. The Swiss based boutique firm will open the Women's Leadership Fund next year in the hope of generating superior returns by investing in businesses run by women.

  See: Six women CEOs and the companies they run

Is this women-in-charge angle a unique way to get a leg up? Can it really be that simple?

History does not give us the data to know. There just aren't enough women CEOs at top companies to obtain decisive data.

Women are stepping up at more and more companies, though, and their results suggest this fund has discovered more than a gimmick. I took a look at businesses with female CEOs. Here are four women I'd invest with:

Carol Bartz - Yahoo

Carol Bartz took control of Yahoo (YHOO) in the wake of Jerry Yang’s determined failure to sell the company to Microsoft (MSFT). Yang cost shareholders dearly for foiling that deal.

Thus far, Bartz is doing a fine job. Yahoo’s shares have recovered nicely. Noticeably absent is the rollercoaster change in direction that marked Yang's tenure. Bartz’s steady hand should reward shareholders in the long run. Who knows? With a softer touch in the management suite, perhaps a deal with Microsoft can be salvaged.

Tamara Lundgren – Schnitzer Steel

Who says a woman can’t run a tough-as-nails industrial company? Tamara Lundgren, a Wellesley grad with legal and finance experience, grabbed the wheel at Schnitzer Steel (SCHN) and welcomed the challenge of operating a company in a male-dominated industry.

With steel prices pressured by the weak economy, Lundgren hopes to make up the difference with volume. Her primary target is the cash for clunkers program that fits perfectly with Schnitzer’s strategy of recycling. No time to fret over problems here. Lundgren is attacking the industry head-on.

Andrea Jung – Avon Products

Nothing says femininity like Avon Products (AVP), but don’t be fooled by the feminine charms of Andrea Jung. This lady is a tiger, and that is a good thing for shareholders.

The makeup and fashion world is located in the heart of New York, and New York is a brutal landscape for business. Many have come and gone. Within that environment, Avon has been a survivor. It's direct sales model is one key, but so, too, is keeping its line of products fresh and invigorating. Jung has done that with great packaging and a focus on skin care for an aging population.

Angela Braly – WellPoint

Despite a challenging market for the health care business, investors need not worry about Angela Braly running the show at WellPoint (WLP), the giant health insurance company. Braly is spending an inordinate amount of time lobbying against health care reform. The stakes are high. A public option could significantly impair WellPoint’s profitability. Braly is clearly focused on that bottom line and doing everything in her power to make sure the insurance industry survives and thrives.

Click here to read about all Six Smoking Hot CEOs.

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At the time of publication, James Dlugosch did not have any holdings in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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