The Motley Fool's Fifth-Best CEO of the Year Is...

It's that time of the year again folks! It's time to dust off the cyber awards and crown five CEOs with the prestigious honor of being the best of the best in 2013.

Unlike last year where we held several rounds of public voting after I arbitrarily picked eight of the best and worst CEOs, I wanted to do something different this year. So instead of randomly picking whom I thought should be in each category for 2013, I reached out to as many of my Motley Fool colleagues as possible and aggregated their answers into one list. The end result is a considerably more balanced list representing a wider swath of views, and likely a more accurate portrayal of the best CEOs of the year than I could have come up with by myself.

Each week, starting today, I'll unveil one of the selected CEOs of the year, counting backward to No. 1. So without further ado, here's The Motley Fool's fifth-best CEO of the year:


Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford

Alan Mulally, Source: Ford.

Why Alan Mulally?
Talk about a CEO brought in to revamp a struggling company who kept his end of the bargain and then some!

Mulally has completely reinvigorated the Ford brand name, inspiring confidence among employees, investors, and consumers, and helping to deliver a dividend-adjusted 34% year-to-date gain for shareholders that is far higher than all three market indexes. Based on my own opinion and those of my various co-workers, I believe Mulally's outperformance fits into four primary categories.

First, Mulally is giving consumers precisely what they want: a fuel-efficient and affordable automobile. There will always be those of us who seek a high-performance car, but the majority of Americans care about fuel efficiency and bottom-line price. Mulally has introduced numerous new and redesigned models, some of which boast the EcoBoost technology that can improve gas mileage without sacrificing engine performance, which are hitting home with American consumers.

You don't have to look very far to see that Ford vehicles are selling like hotcakes, with year-to-date sales up 12.2% through October compared to 2012 and Ford's domestic market share up 40 basis points to 15.8%. By comparison, General Motors , Chrysler, Honda and Toyota have only delivered year-to-date domestic auto sales growth of 8.3%, 8.7%, 8.5%, and 8.1%, respectively. 

Inside 2014 F-150, Source: Ford.

Second, Mulally understands the importance and tradition of Ford's F-Series pickups and he's had no qualms about updating their designs on a regular basis to drive sales. The end result has been a nearly flawless perch atop the best-selling vehicles list for the better part of Mulally's tenure. In contrast, GM has witnessed sales of its GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado improve in recent months, but that's only after its first major redesign of these two models in practically eight years. Mulally has remained on point and is driving innovation in an industry where innovation is everything.

Third, Ford is just mopping the floor with its peers in China, the world's fastest-growing auto market. Ford last week reported China auto sales through October that showed a 52% increase compared to last year. Toyota and Honda are still having trouble finding traction due to political tensions between China and Japan, while General Motors is simply growing at a much slower rate. As auto sector Fool Dan Miller notes, GM's market share in China is consistently hovering around 14% while Ford's is growing and now tops 4%. Ford is well on its way to achieving its goal of a 5% market share by the end of the year, and the automaker could have a 6% share by 2015 after the introduction of a number of new vehicles. 

Finally, Mulally made sure to take care of long-term investors who believe in the company and his turnaround plan by doubling Ford's dividend back to $0.10 per share each quarter earlier this year (it had previously paid out a $0.10 quarterly dividend prior to his 2006 hiring). At a yield of 2.4%, investors are handily topping any yield they'd find in most banks and credit unions.

When asked for his candidates for CEO of the year, Miller said:

[Mulally] took the Blue Oval from losing over $30 billion between 2006-2008 to turning a profit in 2009 while crosstown rivals GM/Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. Following his "One Ford" vision, Ford has consolidated platforms, improved operating margins, and is designing vehicles people actually want to buy. By the time Mulally ends his career at Ford, he'll likely have witnessed the company double its market share in China and return to profitability in Europe -- icing on the cake.

Stay tuned as we unveil our fourth-best CEO of the year next week, as well as name as our fifth-worst CEO of the year later this week.

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The article The Motley Fool's Fifth-Best CEO of the Year Is... originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor  Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle  @TMFUltraLong . The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Ford. It also recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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