By Ted Carter
The pain of a bad year on the stock market continued this week for the heads of Mississippi’s BancorpSouth Bank and Hancock Bank with placement on The Street.com’s list of 10 “Worst” financial CEOs.
Hancock Bank’s President & CEO Carl Chaney and COO-CEO John Hairston landed in fifth place on the poll based on a 13.05 percent loss in share value in 2010 through Dec. 21. For the five-year period that includes 2010, Gulfport-based Hancock showed a return of 8.08 percent on its shares, however.
BancorpSouth declined comment on the ranking, while Hancock Bank said it wanted to know more about the selection process before it commented.
Dan Freed, the reporter who compiled the list for the financial news website, acknowledged in his introduction that he thinks the rankings perhaps gave too much weight to stock market performance for a single year (in this case 11 months and three weeks of 2010).
“The movement of a stock over a single year only gets you so far when you’re looking at CEO performance, and in our efforts to find the worst-performing financial sector CEOs in 2010, we may have relied on that metric a bit too heavily,” Freed told readers in his Dec. 31 introduction of the CEOs he asked them to rank. “That’s why we followed up our analysis by looking at longer term share performance and calls to the CEOs and others who follow their companies. We didn’t allow positive marks in those areas to alter our list, but we certainly took note of those factors.”
For BancorpSouth CEOs Aubrey Patterson, a 2010 share value loss of 34.48 accounted for a third-place ranking. The Street.com noted a three-year year value drop of 31.64 and five-year drop of 21.42 percent.
The financial website presented readers with a list of executives of financial institutions with assets of $1 billion or more and asked them to rank the executives from first to last for performance. Only a handful of readers responded, giving the distinction of the first worst to CME Group CEO Craig Donohue, a derivatives exchange. Donohue drew 20 votes.
Patterson, a former president of the American Bankers Association, received 12 votes in tying for third place with American National Insurance chief Robert Moody, The Street.com reported.
Patterson has headed BancorpSouth Bank, the largest bank headquartered in Mississippi, since 1991. The Street quoted one anonymous analyst as saying: “While the bank’s shares have quadrupled since that time, recent performance has been a clear disappointment.”
The analyst noted that as recently as a year ago BancorpSouth traded at about two times tangible book value but today trades at just over tangible book value.
The analyst said Patterson and BancorpSouth could have been “more aggressive throughout the credit cycle.”
In its report on the nominations of Chaney and Hairston of Hancock Holding Co., The Street noted a weakness in Hancock’s shares, showing a three-year total return of -0.11. Chaney, in comments to The Street, attributed the weakness on shares to a $10 million charge-off the bank took as a reserve against potential losses from the BP oil spill in the Gulf.
To make the list, the executive had to have received a raise in 2009 and been in the position for at least two years. The Street.com’s list noted Patterson’s $4.51 million compensation in 2009 included a 127 percent pay hike over 2008.
The listed put the 2009 pay of Chaney and Hairston at $1.25 million each, a figure that includes a 16 percent increase over 2008.
Freed, in a phone interview, said this was the first year the web site conducted the poll.
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