CEO Daily readers did their best to identify Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year this week, guessing Tim Cook (no. 4 on our list), Travis Kalanick (no. 8) and Elon Musk (Didn’t make the top 20. Sorry, Elon.)
No one got it right. The introverted Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, has flown under the radar since taking over the shoe company in 2006. But his name jumped right to the top when we did our annual screening exercise, looking at 10 financial metrics – including 12-month and 36-month increases in profit and revenue, and total shareholder returns – as well as more qualitative measures such as business impact. In his time as CEO, Parker has doubled revenues, doubled profits, and grown his stock price six fold. “It’s about time the media discovered Mark,” says Phil Knight, the legendary co-founder of the sneaker company. “It’s like, where have you been?” Our apologies, Phil.
Nike is emblematic of another important trend. Making shoes may be the second oldest business on earth, but Nike is doing it with cutting edge of technology, remaking its relationships with customers and suppliers in the process. It recently forged a relationship with Silicon Valley contract manufacturer Flex (formerly Flextronics) to bring high-tech manufacturing techniques to its suppliers in Asia. It is also exploring the use of 3-D printing to make custom shoes. Like every good business, Nike today is a technology business.
Meanwhile, I’m back in California at the EY Strategic Growth Forum, and will be posting updates from here for the next couple of days. On Saturday morning, I sit down with Meg Whitman, the CEO of the newly-minted HP Enterprise to get her first report on the split of the iconic California company. If you have questions for her, send them my way.
Enjoy the day. Share the CEO Daily.
• Macy’s disappoints Wall Street
Shares of the department store took a dive on Wednesday after it reported poor sales for the third quarter, hurt by less consumer interest in apparel and more dollars being spent on cars, electronics and home repairs – areas where Macy’s is virtually absent. Tourism is also down in the U.S., hurting sales at Macy’s stores in Manhattan, San Francisco and Miami. “Spending by domestic customers remained tepid, especially in key apparel and accessory categories,” said Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren. Fortune
• VW to offer whistleblowers impunity
Volkswagen is expected to make an announcement on Thursday that outlines clearer guidelines for whistleblowers at the German auto company to come forward with information about the emissions-cheating scandal. With an expected deadline of the end of November, employees are being asked to provide self-incriminating information but with an offer of impunity. Why is VW offering this? Wall Street Journal says the company’s management is facing pressure from regulatory agencies, especially the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to deliver more details about how VW came to cheat on emissions tests and who at the company was responsible. WSJ (subscription required)
• Rolls-Royce may cut dividend
The British engine maker issued its fourth profit warning in just over a year and said it may cut its dividend due to weaker demand for spares and services for existing aero-engines, news that sent shares plunging more than 22% in early Thursday trading. The 131-year-old company warned profit next year would now be more than 30% below the current consensus estimate – which analysts had already trimmed expectations for after a warning in July. Fortune
• Angie’s List gets takeover offer
Angie’s List, which operates a website that allows users to review local businesses, received an unsolicited bid for about $512 million in cash from Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp. IAC took its offer public after failing to develop “meaningful dialogue” with Angie’s List, which confirmed the proposal but asked shareholders not to take action. Angie’s List has been losing market share and subscribers as it charges members a fee to access reviews that can be found for free on Yelp, TripAdvisor and other sites. Reuters
Around the Water Cooler
• How P&G tackles the smart home
“What’s the benefit to the consumer is a product could be connected?” – that is one of the questions a Procter & Gamble executive said the team asks when trying to think about product development. With that in mind, P&G is testing a relatively new wireless protocol called Thread, which competes with other wireless standards that connect devices to each other and also the Internet. Beyond the potential consumer benefits, P&G sees great opportunity for the data it could collect that may be used for key consumer insights into what people are buying and how they are using those products in their homes. Fortune
• Black Friday’s death may be good
With big-box retailers like Target and Best Buy spreading discounts through more of November – as they angle to better compete with deals being offered by Amazon.com – the door-busters needed to compete on Black Friday are seemingly less appealing. That’s a good thing for the retail industry, Bloomberg notes, as it could actually boost profits by cutting back on the steep discounts that are used to compete for shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving. With about half of consumers saying they are relying less on going out on Black Friday, it makes sense for retailers to shift their strategies. Bloomberg
• Netflix becomes a traditional studio
Netflix, first known for shipping DVDs to homes and later establishing a big business as an on-demand video streaming service, is taking another evolutionary step. It has released its first theatrical film and now it is being reported that the company will spend up to $50 million to finance a film that is being co-produced by actor Brad Pitt. That sort of investment is huge for Netflix, which has in recent years spent money on its own hit TV series like House of Cards but is now looking to move beyond that sort of production. Wired