PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Steps Down, With a Parting Gift for Investors: Better-Than-Expected Earnings
Indra Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as PepsiCo’s CEO came to and end Tuesday as the 24-year PepsiCo veteran hands the corporate reins over to her successor. Starting Wednesday, Ramón Laguarta will oversee the Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker brands.
Nooyi’s final day on the job included a quarterly earnings report that beat analyst estimates—the 75th such earnings call she has participated in as the company’s CEO or CFO. Revenue rose 1.5% to $16.5 billion while earnings totaled $1.59 a share. Both figures beat analyst estimates, although some analysts nitpicked the results because they benefited from a lower tax rate rather than higher operating margins.
As a result, PepsiCo’s stock fell 1.9% to $108.72 a share during Nooyi’s last day. But the company’s stock has risen 109% since Nooyi was named CEO in August 2006, a notable performance in an industry known more for slow, steady improvements rather than tech-like hypergrowth. Coca-Cola’s stock, by comparison, has risen 67% since August 2006.
Under Nooyi’s leadership, PepsiCo’s revenue grew by 80% during a period when consumer tastes began to change and when food companies faced consolidation. Nooyi pushed PepsiCo early on to shift from junk food toward healthier snacks and beverages, anticipating a change that caught some companies off guard. She also advocated for stronger recycling policies as well as snacks that were tailored toward the tastes of female consumers.
Nooyi won numerous business accolades, included landing at or near the top of Fortune’s annual ranking of Most Powerful Women in business, where she appeared in 18 of the last 20 years. Last year, when Nooyi was ranked No. 2 on the list, she spoke about the formidable challenges she still faced as PepsiCo’s leader.
“The industry is seeing a pace of change and disruption that we’ve never seen… You’re going to have consolidation, disruption, and a shakeout in the industry. You’re going to see the emergence of new players,” Nooyi said. “You can look at it with pessimism, that, ‘Oh, my God, all of this is changing,’ or optimism, to say perhaps this is the time to rewrite some of the rules and rebalance the competitive equation in the industry. I’m in the latter camp, and I’m looking at the world and saying, ‘Interesting times.'”
Nooyi’s successor Laguarta is also a PepsiCo veteran, having worked at the company for 22 years. Laguarta will be the sixth CEO at PepsiCo, which has historically appointed new CEOs from within its ranks.
Nooyi will remain PepsiCo’s chairman until early next year. When she was named CEO of Pepsi, she was one of only 11 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. After she steps down, there will be 25. In an interview this summer with Fortune, Noori expressed regret that number remained low. “It concerns me in that we can actually count how many there are, as opposed to saying there are hundreds,” she said.