CEO on the hot seat: Mark Parker, Nike
Parker can focus on international opportunities, but will bump up against tougher competition.
NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - Beware the fury of a frustrated founder. In January Phil Knight ousted CEO William Perez, his hand-picked successor, after only 13 months on the job and replaced him with Mark Parker.
A Nike lifer, Parker has to grow the company internationally and build the company's other brands such as Converse, Starter, and Cole Haan. And he has to hope Knight grants him the autonomy Perez claims he never got.
You wouldn't know there was turmoil at the top based on performance. Earnings were up 25 percent last year, and the stock is near an all-time high.
Parker can build on Nike's success in women's apparel, make more inroads into the European soccer market, and turn Nike's presence at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics into a Swoosh coming-out party in China.
Still, the Adidas-Reebok merger may create a more potent competitor. And as Citigroup analyst Kate McShane notes, with a third of Nike products sourced from China, further appreciation of the yuan could drive up costs and squeeze profit margins.