Corporate takeover specialist T. Boone Pickens has unveiled a list of the "good, the bad and the ugly of corporate America", ranking 1,000 companies on stock performance and shareholder responsiveness.
The top-rated companies were Price Co., a San Diego retailer; The Circle K Corp., a Phoenix food chain and Aon Corp., a Chicago insurance company.Allegheny International Inc. was at the bottom of the heap, ahead of Maxus Energy Corp. and USG Corp., according to the list prepared by United Shareholders Association, a stockowners' advocacy organization chaired by Pickens.
"These rankings will tell America's 50 million shareholders which companies are most responsive to the owners," said Pickens, who also is managing partner of Mesa L.P., a Texas oil company.
"The USA ratings underscore the basic idea behind public corporations, that shareholders are owners and that managers are employees who are hired to work for shareholders," Pickens said at a news conference.
The rankings were based on a number of factors. They included recognition of shareholder rights, including voting rules; whether managements have adopted anti-takeover schemes such as poison pills and golden parachutes; how much of a stake managements have in their company's stock; and corporate performance, including stock price and dividend performance.
"USA's ratings point out which managements are attuned to shareholders interests, sort of the good, the bad and the ugly of corporate America," Pickens said.
Other companies ranked at the top of the list were Southwest Airlines Co., TCA Cable TV Inc., The Gap Inc., Autodesk Inc., Systematics Inc., Applied Biosystems Inc. and Russell Corp.
Some of the nation's largest and most prominent companies were in the bottom 20, including Western Union Corp., USX Corp., Caterpillar Inc., goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Texas Air Corp., the company that owns strikebound Eastern Airlines.
By industry, Southwest Airlines had the best ranking in air transportation. Quantum Chemical was best in chemicals and Comdisco Inc. in data processing. Other industry leaders were Rorer Group Inc. in drugs, Tyco Laboratories Inc. in electronics, Quaker Oats Co. in food, Humana Inc. in health care, Brunswick Corp. in leisure and amusement and McGraw-Hill Inc. in publishing.
Ames Department Stores Inc. topped the list of retailers, MCI Communications Corp. was first in telecommunications and Federal Express Corp. led the way in the transportation-freight industry.
Pickens, who is best known for his attempted takeovers of such petroleum giants as Gulf Oil, now Chevron Corp., and Unocal Corp., said the intention of the list is not to "bash" large corporations but to focus on those companies that are performing well and treating shareholders as they should - as well as those companies that should do better.
"It is a consumer guide, focusing on management accountability and corporate competitiveness," he said.
"Corporate America is doing better today than five years ago (but) I don't think you can ever take the pressure off. We have to compete in a global economy," Pickens added.