Ever since early 2001, it seems that our culture has prided itself on rewarding failure (Mission Accomplished, anyone?). This idea seems alive and well after reading Barron's [subscription required] list of the 30 most respected CEOs, which appears to have been selected through a vote by stock analysts. But those analysts must be basing their votes on how much investment banking business the companies throw to the analysts' employers. For shareholders, these 30 CEOs have delivered massive losses in the last year. Only two of the 30 -- Genentech (DNA) and Family Dollar (FDO) -- actually boosted their stock price in 2008.
I am pretty sure that investors do not buy stocks with the idea of losing money. That's why it seems so odd that Barron's chose to celebrate 28 CEOs who destroyed shareholder value in 2008. To be fair, 19 of these 28 CEOs destroyed shareholder value less aggressively than the S&P 500, which fell 44.8% -- but for people seeking to increase their nest eggs, the 31.8% average rate of shareholder value destruction for its 30 Kings of the Jungle is scant comfort.