Leave it to Cramer to work even on a day of celebration such as this – but there’s work to be done. See, today he had to admit that there was a big name missing from the Wall of Shame: Citigroup’s Chuck Prince. You may be wondering how a man like Cramer, who’s heading into his third year of Mad Money – the number-two show on TV (because 24 isn’t all that great this season) – could have left the Clown Prince off the list. So to make up for the lapse, Prince is going straight to the top of the list.
And as a birthday surprise, Cramer has another announcement for you. He’s replacing Bank of America with Citigroup as his absolute favorite of the financials. Why? Because rumors alone of Prince being fired sent the stock up nine points – imagine what it would do if that actually happened! There are plenty of reasons to think that Prince is on his way out, but we’ll get to those in a minute. Let’s not overlook Citi’s juicy 4.5% yield as another great reason to own the stock. It’s got the same return as a Treasury but with better tax treatment, not to mention great upside potential once Prince is out.
So why should Chuckie get the boot? How about the fact that the stock has only risen 3.7% since he took over in October 2003. The total return including dividends is 18.1%. Compare that with the BKX bank index: up 22.8% with a 37.6% total return. That’s double what Prince did for Citi.
Then there’s the salary. Aside of the $26 million Prince paid to himself, add another $93 million – and that’s not including the 700,000+ options, some of which are actually worth something despite the CEO’s best efforts to keep the stock flat. All that for moving the stock up 3.7%?
Another reason it’s time for Prince to move on is that he’s a legacy from the days of Eliot Spitzer, who took Citigroup apart in order to save it. The firm needed a Mr. Clean non-banker to make things right with the regulators. Now things are right and Spitzer's in Albany where he has bigger fish to fry.
Lastly, the havoc-wreaking continues with the nonsensical bidding war to buy Nikko Cordial, a financial firm in the worst market in the world – Japan!
Bottom Line: By unanimous consent, Chuck Prince is number one on the Mad Money Wall of Shame. The man’s worth nine points to this stock, if he simply says four words: "My job is done."
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