This week is all about CEOs who’ve managed to save their respective businesses. These are real turnaround heroes like Fred Hassan of Schering-Plough and Mark Hurd of Hewlett-Packard. They’re proof that cold, hard numbers aren’t the only factors to consider when pricing a stock because strong leadership can send shares higher.
Today’s pick is David Cote of Honeywell International. When he arrived at the company in 2002, Honeywell was feeling the pressure from billion-dollar asbestos issues and an unwieldy merger with Allied Signal, which still hadn’t been fully integrated in the three years since the deal took place. Then there was CEO Michael Bonsignore, a morale killer if ever Cramer saw one and the CEO before Larry "asbestos" Bossidy, who was interim CEO before Cote took over. Bonsignore seemed to leave Honeywell searching for an identity. Was it a chemicals company? A climate-controls company? Defense? Aerospace?
But Cote pulled the company back from the brink, Cramer says. The stock is up 73% since he took the helm. And it’s no surprise because he has a history of great stewardship. Before Honeywell, Cote was the chairman, CEO and president of TRW, a $16 billion products and services provider for auto, aerospace and IT. He set up the deal that put TRW into Northrop Grumman’s hands, which boosted the company 33% during his tenure. He also served 25 years at General Electric, parent company of CNBC, where he was CEO of GE Appliance.
Honeywell now has a sense of its own identity, Cramer says, as a great American manufacturer with a lot of international business. He’d buy any company that Cote is running.
Bottom Line: David Cote is enough reason to own any company, Cramer says, be it Honeywell or his next destination.