For now we know little beyond the bare facts of Thomas Staggs’s surprise departure from Disney yesterday, where he was CEO Bob Iger’s heir apparent. So allow me to engage in some total speculation. Both Staggs and the Disney board could have formed doubts about the prospective succession based on the same fact: Disney has performed stupendously under Iger, especially in the past five years.
Iger has deployed lots of capital on major acquisitions – Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm – and then achieved the elusive goal of earning knockout returns on that capital. The stock has soared, and if you crunch the numbers, as the consultants at EVA Dimensions have done, you find that investors have priced more years of great performance into the stock.
So if you’re a Disney director, you might have doubted whether Staggs (or anyone) could keep that growth going, and mere doubts by investors would be enough to knock the stock down. And if you’re Staggs, even with complete confidence in your own abilities, you might have wondered if a nervous board would extend Iger’s contract beyond its current June 2018 expiration in order to reassure investors.
So did Staggs jump, or was he pushed? Whatever the story, the problem of sustaining turbocharged growth probably played a central role.
Will today be the end of Trump? Definitely not, if he scores a surprise win over Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary. But what if he loses, and maybe loses not just the state’s at-large delegates but also all those awarded by congressional district? It could happen, in which case the delegate math gets gnarly for him, as Reid Wilson explains at fortune.com. Even if that should happen, though, leading to a contested convention that chooses some other nominee, we shouldn’t say that today was the beginning of the end.
That day was arguably last Wednesday, the worst day of a very bad week, when Trump made his gaffe about punishing women for having abortions if they were made illegal. Within hours he said that his position was exactly the opposite. Then on Friday he said that abortion law should remain as it is; almost immediately his campaign said he didn’t mean that either. Also last week the police charged his campaign manager with battery; Trump refused to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe; he again hinted darkly at violence if he isn’t given the nomination; and he committed assorted other blunders that, for him, don’t amount to much. See Tory Newmyer’s excellent fuller explication.
Now, a few days later, the whole tone of the Trump narrative has turned. Suddenly the overwhelming theme of media coverage is, “he’s vulnerable.” Polling has shown that the No. 1 or No. 2 reason Trump supporters like him is that “he speaks his mind.” But his dramatic decline in Wisconsin polling suggests that maybe his weather-vane stance on abortion is causing supporters to revise their view: Yes, he speaks his mind, but whatever is in his mind changes from moment to moment.
It’s true that CNBC’s Chris Matthews elicited Trump’s remark by deploying all his lawyerly interrogatory skills. But remember that Trump has bragged that as president he’d show how to deal with Vladimir Putin. Supporters might reasonably wonder how he’d fare with Putin if he can’t handle Chris Matthews.
As George Will so nicely put it a couple of weeks ago, those supporters may be having second, or perhaps first, thoughts. Not that we know where this is going. Trump could yet win Wisconsin and the nomination. But if it all unravels, March 30 was the beginning of the end.
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What We’re Reading Today
Banks were heavy users of Panamanian law firm
Stuart Gulliver‘s HSBC, Sergio Ermotti‘s UBS, and Tidjane Thiam‘s Credit Suisse are defending their companies’ use of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm that has set up dummy corporations for over 40 years. HSBC accounted for 15% of the 15,600 companies the firm set up for banks. Gulliver set up a company through the firm to hide a personal account. All three companies said they operate within the law. WSJ
Panama Papers: Iceland Prime Minister urged to quit
Protestors circled parliament calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson. The Mossack Fonseca records show that Gunnlaugsson’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, owned an offshore company in which she invested millions of dollars she had inherited. Gunnlaugsson says he won’t resign, but a potential no-confidence vote in parliament could make him the first leader to fall as a result of the data release. BBC
New inversion rules could put Pfizer-Allergan deal at risk
A new rule issued by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew makes it more difficult for companies contemplating tax-inversion deals to avoid previous rules intended to hinder such deals. The rules, which are complicated, appear aimed straight at the planned $160-billion Pfizer-Allergan deal, which would move Pfizer’s tax domicile to Allergan’s home in Ireland. Pfizer CEO Ian Read will have to decide if the Treasury rules are enough to end the merger. Fortune
Alabama GOP legislators could begin impeachment proceedings today…
…to oust Republican governor Robert Bentley. Newly released tapes indicate an affair between Bentley and a senior aide. Alabama can’t recall a governor, so impeaching Bentley would be the first step in removing him from office. Bentley and the aide have denied the alleged affair. CNN
Building a Better Leader
Refunding insurance premiums as a workplace health incentive doesn’t work…
…because the payments are hidden. A $20 bump in monthly pay isn’t very noticeable when it’s deposited directly. But a $20 check is. Knowledge@Wharton
If you’re launching a company and not saying ‘no’…
…then expect to burn out. You must not spread yourself too thin. Fortune
The airline with the best quality experience is…
…Virgin America. The airline won the distinction for the fourth year in a row — on the day it was sold to Alaska Air Group. CNN
Disney’s No. 2 suddenly steps down
The heir apparent to CEO Robert Iger, COO Tom Staggs resigned on Monday. Staggs may have been annoyed that Iger hadn’t formalized the succession, but the board also may have questioned Staggs’s ability to “maintain Disney’s creative momentum.” The board, apparently worried it can’t find an ideal successor in-house, says it will broaden its search. Fortune
PulteGroup founder fights with CEO
Founder William Pulte questioned Chairman and CEO Richard Dugas Jr.‘s decision making, calling for an immediate resignation. Dugas agreed to step down in May 2017, but Pulte says that will just delay the changes the company needs. The board supports Dugas. WSJ
Honeywell appoints a possible successor to CEO Cote
Darius Adamczyk will become Honeywell’s first president and COO, fueling speculation that he is heir apparent to CEO David Cote. Cote has served as CEO for 14 years and reportedly is contemplating retirement in the next year. Reuters
Up or Out
Kirk Skaugen, head of Intel’s client computing group, is stepping down. He will be replaced by Navin Shenoy. Doug Davis will also step down as head of Intel’s Internet of Things group. Fortune
Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan has resigned to launch a startup. WSJ
Fortune Reads and Videos
Twitter to give 20 weeks of paid leave…
…to all new parents. The company joins Etsy and Facebook in giving “gender-neutral” time off for new parents. Fortune
Airbus tells employees that a ‘Brexit’…
…wouldn’t be good for them. It would limit future investments, say Airbus execs. Fortune
Panama Papers fallout in China…
…has been nonexistent. That’s because the Chinese government is blocking any news of officials hiding money. Fortune
Trump Hotels faces another possible data breach
It’s the second one in a year. Fortune
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell turns 79 today. Biography
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|Produced by Ryan Derousseau|