Best CEO golfers shoot stocks bogey
It's in the hole - success on the links, poor share price seem to go hand in hand.
Most of the nation's chief executives with the best golf scores have another handicap - poor stock performance.
Golf Digest has come out with its fifth biennial ranking of the best golfing CEO's, as it lists the quality of the game of the CEO's from the Fortune 1000 who hit the links.
The ranking is by handicap, which measures the typical strokes over par that the CEO shoots on a course. But half of the top 12 golfers in the group (three are tied for 10th with a 5.2 handicap) have seen their company's share price decline in value this year, and another two have seen the stock's gain trail the 4.2 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 so far this year through Wednesday's trading.
The average for the 12 stocks of the top golfers is only a 1.1 percent gain.
Jim Crane of EGL Inc. (Charts), a shipping logistics company based in Houston, has the honor of being the best golfer of the group, with a handicap of 0.8 according to Golf Digest, which means he typically shoots just over par.
But EGL's stock is down 19.5 percent for the year, the second-worst performance among the top 12 CEO's on the list, on concerns about slowing economy and freight shipments. The drop in stock price has come even as its operating earnings have improved more than estimates, and analysts are forecasting continued earnings gain the rest of this year into next year.
"There is no correlation whatsoever" between his golf and company performance, Crane told USA Today in its story about the ranking.
Curt Culver, CEO of mortgage lender MGIC Investment Corp. (Charts), had been ranked No. 1 in the 2004 Golf Digest survey, but he slipped to No. 3 in the current survey as his handicap edged up to 2.6 from 2.4. His stock lost 13.1 percent of its value this year.
The worst performing stock among the top 12 golfers is Dollar General (Charts), which is down 35.1 percent year to date. Dollar General CEO David Perdue is one of the three CEO's tied for 10th on the list.
The good-golfing CEO who can boast the best stock performance is not surprisingly at an energy company. Barry Davis, CEO of natural gas provider Crosstex Energy (Charts), has a 4.2 handicap, good enough for No. 8 on the Golf Digest ranking, and a 40.8 percent gain for his stock in 2006.
The other CEOs who can brag about both their golf game and their stock performance are Edward Stack of Dick's Sporting Goods (Charts), who has a 4.1 handicap and a 26 percent gain for his stock, and Intuit (Charts) CEO Stephen Bennett, who has a 4.4 handicap and a 18.2 percent rise in his stock.
The magazine reports that the CEO's surveyed report that 35 percent of their golf rounds are with business associates and the rest are with family and friends, but 71 percent said they have done business with someone they met playing a round of golf.
The survey also found 57 percent said they will play 30 or more rounds this year, while another 36 percent will play between 20 and 29 rounds. Only one reported playing less than 10 rounds. About two thirds belong to two or more private golf clubs, with nearly half of the overall group belonging to four or more.
The survey also found that 38 percent admitted to cheating or fudging the rules on the golf course, and 15 percent said they've seen other CEO's do so. But none of those surveyed said they've ever seen a subordinate tank a match to let them win.
As for what they pay to play, 75 percent said they paid $300 or more for greens fees at some point, with the highest reported greens fee being $600. And while three-quarters said they give a $5 tip to the person who cleans their clubs, one CEO reports giving no tip.