The 5 Worst CEOs of the Year

Posted by - Monday, April 16th, 2012

Market Insider Herb Greenberg of CNBC companies an annual list of the worst CEOs based on how much of a hand their strategies have in their companies’ struggles.

A suffering company isn’t always the fault of the CEO. Sometimes a company just can’t stay profitable depending on factors like market conditions and consumer trends.

But these guys really knew how to drive their companies into the ground. Here’s Greenberg’s list of potentials for 2012.

1. Andrew Mason, Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN)

Groupon struggled from the start of the IPO under Mason, the 31-year-old CEO that many people are questioning.

The company was under investigation by the SEC after what was shown to be a $15 million profit was restated as a $15 million loss in 2011 fourth quarter earnings.

He failed to replace second COO Margo Georgiadis and instead took over the duties himself just before IPO, a strategy that left many people very uneasy.

2. Stephen Elop, Nokia (NYSE: NOK)

Sure, Elop hasn’t been CEO for very long. But just today, the company was downgraded to just above “junk” by credit rater Moody’s.

The company hasn’t traded this low in 15 years, and this is partly attributed to the heavy competition in the market, particularly from leaders like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). But Greenberg also believes Elop’s to blame. After all, the company’s most recent phone was released on Easter—not an excellent strategy on his part.

3. Daniel Hesse, Sprint-Nextel (NYSE: S)

This will mark Hesse’s fifth year as CEO of the phone company, and in those five years the company stock dropped 80%.

His tendency to make risky bets, many of which have failed, has set investors on edge and has encouraged the board of directors to keep an eye on him.

4. Thorsten Heins, Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM)

Heins is still new on the job, but the company shows little signs of relief. It’s been his job to announce the company’s loss of $125 million on revenue of $4.19 billion. Always a great way to start your new job...

5. Jim Gooch, Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH)

Jim Gooch is in a similar boat, stepping up recently to run a company that’s probably on its way out.

The company was down 79% in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Gross profit margins are down as well, and other electronic retailers have followed a similar path.

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