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Wall of Shame: Microsoft or Sara Lee?

On Thursday a viewer wrote in to recommend Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer for the Mad Money Wall of Shame. He complained about the stock price, Windows Vista and the failed bid for Yahoo!. He even said the e-mail would never be read on air because Cramer and Ballmer were Harvard classmates.

Wrong on both counts. In order to qualify for the Wall, a CEO’s stock needs to underperform its peers. That isn’t the case with Microsoft . While Ballmer has delivered -58% since taking over on Jan. 13, 2000 – not the best time to run a tech company – Intel is down 64% over the same period. Dell and Cisco Systems are down 69% and 62%, respectively. Cramer also likes Microsoft’s new search tool, Bing, and he called Ballmer smart for walking away from Yahoo! when he did. So this CEO at least doesn’t deserve the Shame treatment.

Sara Lee’s Brenda Barnes, however, is another story. The stock is down 55% under the CEO’s stewardship, which started Feb. 11, 2005, and nothing she has tried has worked to turn this company around. Compare the performance with Kellogg, Heinz and General Mills, which are up 23%, 29% and 27%, respectively, over the same period. Not only has Barnes been unable to keep pace with these other companies, but she has taken her firm in the other direction. Her leaving, Cramer said, could do wonders for the stock price. For that reason, she has earned a place on the Wall of Shame.

Cramer's charitable trust owns Cisco Systems and General Mills.

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