Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert
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Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.

CEO of the Week: John May of Deere & Co.

Farm and construction equipment maker Deere & Co. has a new CEO: John C. May. In November, May, 50, assumed the top post at the Moline, Ill.-based company, as Samuel R. Allen, 65, stepped down while maintaining the board chairmanship. May had served as Deere's president and chief operating officer since April. “John's record of success and proven leadership skills make him highly qualified to lead Deere and guide its success in the years ahead,” Allen said in August, when the company’s board announced May’s election to CEO and to the board of directors. “His experience in precision agriculture, information technology, and overseas operations will be instrumental in driving the company's digitalization journey and extending its success in agricultural and construction equipment,” Allen said. May joined Deere in 1997 and became part of the senior management team in 2012 as president, agricultural solutions and chief information officer. Last year, he was named president, worldwide agriculture and turf division, with responsibility for the Americas and Australia, the global harvesting, turf and utility, and crop care platforms, and intelligent-solutions group. In addition, May has experience in Deere's worldwide construction and forestry division having been factory manager at the John Deere Dubuque Works. In other roles, he was vice president, global turf and utility platform, and managing director of Deere's China operations during a period of significant growth. He joined John Deere in 1997 after working as a management consultant at KPMG Peat Marwick. In the third quarter, Deere reported net income of $722 million, or $2.27 a share, compared with $785 million, or $2.42 a share, a year ago – and 15 cents above the analysts’ consensus estimate polled by FactSet, according to MarketWatch. Excluding one-time items, earnings were $2.14 a share, a penny above the estimate. Sales rose 5% to $9.9 billion – above the $8.47 billion analysts had expected. Deere's performance reflected “continued uncertainties in the agricultural sector,” May said in the company’s earnings release. “Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment,” he said. “Additionally, financial services results have come under pressure due to operating-lease losses.” At the same time, general economic conditions have remained favorable for the company, May said. “This has supported demand for smaller equipment and led to solid results for Deere's construction and forestry business, which had a record year for sales and operating profit,” he said. He’s No. 85 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies Headquarters: Moline, Illinois Age: 50 Education: University of Maine, MBA First joined company: 1997 Prior to joining Deere: Management consultant at KPMG Peat Marwick. Named CEO: August 2019

Under CEO Oscar Munoz, United Airlines Holdings Inc. Ups Its 2019...

United Airlines Holdings is having such a good year so far that CEO Oscar Munoz raised the airline's forecast for the year’s results. The Chicago-based airline reported a third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of $4.07, 33% higher than a year earlier and 10 cents higher than the consensus Wall Street analyst estimate. United also raised its full year 2019 adjusted diluted EPS1 guidance, with a new range of $11.25 to $12.25. "While headwinds affected the sector as a whole this quarter, United’s team once again demonstrated a robust ability to overcome adverse cost pressure, managing to continue growing our network while investing in winning our customers’ loyalty through smart enhancements to the United experience,” Munoz said. “Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our employees, United extended our streak of expanding pre-tax margin on a quarterly basis,” he added. “It provides us further confidence to raise our full year 2019 adjusted diluted EPS guidance, putting us ahead of pace to achieve our goal of $11 to $13 in adjusted diluted EPS by the end of 2020.” On the company’s earnings conference call, Munoz detailed some of United’s recent initiatives to improve passenger experience, including the launch of its ConnectionSaver tool that helps save passengers from missing their flight connections; the deployment of new CR J550 aircraft for regional flights; a “refreshed” United app and expanded complementary snack options. “But ultimately, what makes all of those enhancements truly come alive are the people who deliver them and serve our customers every day,” he said. Munoz, with broad experience in both the transportation industry and large consumer brands, was named United’s president and CEO in 2015. Previously, he served as president, CEO and board director of freight transportation company CSX Corp. Before joining CSX, Munoz held the position of chief financial officer and vice president of consumer services at AT&T Corp. Prior to joining AT&T, he served as senior vice president of finance and administration for U.S. West, regional vice president of finance and administration for Coca-Cola Enterprises and held various financial positions at PepsiCo. Munoz has served on the board of directors of United since 2010 and served on the board of directors of Continental Airlines Inc. from 2004 to 2010. He is active in several industry coalitions and philanthropic and educational organizations including the University of North Florida’s Board of Trustees and the PAFA advisory board of Vanderbilt University. He’s No. 77 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies. Headquarters: Chicago, IL Age: 60 Education: Pepperdine University, MBA First joined company: 2010 Prior to joining United: CEO of CSX Corp. Named CEO: 2015

Rutledge Leads Charter Communications Into New Ventures

Thomas M. Rutledge is chairman and CEO of Charter Communications Inc., the nation’s second-largest cable company with more than 92,000 employees and 26 million customers across 41 states. For the third quarter, the Stamford, Conn.-based company reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings amid an increase in new internet customer users, which helped offset a drop in video and wireless subscribers, according to TheStreet.com. Charter earned $387 million, or $1.74 a share, compared $493 million, or $2.11 a share, a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting earnings of $1.67 a share. Revenue for the quarter was $11.45 billion, compared to consensus estimates of $11.41 billion. “Although our product mix is different today than it was several years ago, we're driving customer relationship growth given our superior products, pricing and network, combined with execution capabilities that continue to improve,” Rutledge said in the company’s earnings call with analysts. Quarter highlights include the October launch of Charter’s advanced in-home Wi-Fi in Austin, Texas, he said. Overtime, the company will roll out the product to its entire footprint, starting with additional markets in late 2019. “Given our network, software operating platform and top rated subs support tool, we’re in a unique position to provide enhanced security privacy and control over all IP devices in our customers home, easily managed by customers in a single app, while simultaneously delivering a superior customer experience through better in-home Wi-Fi coverage, and managed Wi-Fi solutions through dynamic bands switching and channel optimization within the bands,” Rutledge said. Charter also recently launched Spectrum Mobile services to small and medium business customers in all channels, he said. “Mobile remains a key area of our focus for China going forward and we're uniquely positioned to take advantage of wireline and wireless network convergence overtime with our fully distributed wireline network,” Rutledge said. The company is also considering a streaming video offering similar to Comcast’s Xfinity Flex product, he said. During the call, Rutledge was also asked recent speculation that Charter might use technologies including CBRS and dual-SIM to move traffic off the Verizon network, thus making their respective mobile offerings far more profitable, according to Multichannel News “We’ve talked about dual SIM technology opportunities and the testing that we've done, and we're quite optimistic about the capability of that strategy,” Rutledge said. “We’re quite optimistic about the ability to make select investments in areas where traffic dictates in such a way as to move services that we pay rent for on to our own platform and that opportunity already exists with Wi-Fi and a significant number of our customers.” According to Rutledge, 80% of data used on Spectrum Mobile is transmitted via Wi-Fi. If Charter could offload anything close to half the cost of monthly service onto its own network, "it would be a game-changer," said Moffett Nathanson principal analyst Craig Moffett. “We think there's continued opportunity to move traffic that way, and we've experimented with a bunch of methodologies to do that and CBRS does work very well,” Rutledge said. “And as you know there's a significant amount of free CBRS spectrum available which we've been using. We've also done some experiments with that spectrum with fixed wireless connectivity. We've got an experiment going with that too and actual live customers going in rural low density areas. So it's a pretty valuable piece of spectrum. There's some private spectrum of CBRS that's going to be auction next year. The question we're evaluating is should we be involved in that. But we haven't determined that yet but we're looking at it closely.” Prior to becoming CEO of Charter in 2012, Rutledge, a 40-year veteran of the industry, served as chief operating officer of Cablevision Systems. He began his career in 1977 at American Television and Communications (ATC), a predecessor of Time Warner Cable where he served in many different capacities, eventually becoming president of Time Warner Cable. Rutledge is the current Chairman of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and serves on the boards of CableLabs and C-SPAN. In 2011, he received NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor, and is a member of the Cable Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. He’s No. 70 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies. Headquarters: Stamford, CT Age: 66 Education: California University of Pennsylvania, B.A. First joined company: 2012 Prior to joining Bunge: COO of Cablevision Systems Named CEO: 2012

Bunge Ltd.’s new CEO Greg Heckman is Quickly Making His Mark

[caption id="attachment_72160" align="alignright" width="287"] Bunge Ltd CEO Gregory A. Heckman[/caption] Bunge Ltd. has a new CEO: agribusiness veteran Greg Heckman has more than three decades of experience in the agriculture, energy and food processing industries. Heckman joined the Bunge board in October 2018 and served as acting CEO since January 2019 until he was appointed to the position permanently in April. Heckman previously served as CEO of the Gavilon Group and in senior executive roles at ConAgra Foods. “I joined the Bunge board because I recognized the significant opportunity to leverage Bunge’s team and global footprint to drive improved operational performance and create shareholder value,” Heckman said. “The last few months spent visiting company facilities and meeting with employees around the world has reinforced and increased my confidence in Bunge’s ability to deliver for our customers, shareholders and partners. We will continue to streamline and focus the business as we position Bunge for the future.” Founded in 1818, the company now has 31,000 employees worldwide and more than 360 port terminals, oilseed processing plants, grain silos, and food and ingredient production and packaging facilities around the world. Currently Bunge is based in White Plains, N.Y., but the company announced in August that it would be relocating its headquarters to the St. Louis area by mid-2020. Not long after officially assuming the top post, Heckman announced that Bunge would adopt a new, global operating model, aligned with the company’s commercial activities: handling and processing, managing physical product flows, and risk management and optimization. As a result of the realignment, Bunge reshuffled its senior leadership team. “Shifting away from our regional, matrix-based structure will simplify the organization and speed up decision making, increasing our strategic flexibility, customer focus and accountability,” Heckman said. “These changes support our strategic priorities: driving operational performance, optimizing the portfolio and strengthening financial discipline.” In July, Bunge announced an agreement with BP plc to form a 50:50 joint venture that will create a leading bioenergy company in Brazil, one of the world’s largest fast-growing markets for biofuels. “This partnership with BP represents a major portfolio optimization milestone for Bunge which allows us to reduce our current exposure to sugar milling, strengthen our balance sheet and focus on our core businesses,” Hickman said. “We have a strong, committed partner in BP, as well as flexibility in the medium and long term for further monetization, with full exit potential via an IPO or other strategic route.” The joint venture, to be called BP Bunge Bioenergia, will operate on a stand-alone basis, with a total of 11 mills located across the Southeast, North and Midwest regions of Brazil. With 32 million metric tonnes of combined crushing capacity per year, the joint venture will have the flexibility to produce a mix of ethanol and sugar. It will also generate renewable electricity—fueled by waste biomass from the sugar cane— through its cogeneration facilities to power all its sites and sell surplus electricity to the Brazilian power grid. BP and Bunge’s assets are largely complementary, with sites in five Brazilian states including three in the key region of São Paulo. The combined business will be ranked the second-largest player in the industry in Brazil by effective crushing capacity. In September, Bunge announced an agreement to buy 30 percent of Agrofel Grãos e Insumos, an agricultural inputs reseller in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The investment is aligned with Bunge’s strategy to focus on its core businesses, thus strengthening its grain origination position in Brazil, the company said. Heckman told Reuters in September that improving risk management at the 200-year-old company is a key focus. Bunge posted two quarterly losses in 2018 after it had betted on a quick resolution to the trade war between the U.S. and China—and now Heckman wants to prepare better for unsuspected political vagaries. “We want to avoid any surprises from stroke-of-the-pen risk,” Heckman said, referring to unforeseen risks such as abrupt government policy shifts or tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump. The company is improving coordination between its risk management and commercial teams and doing more scenario analysis to make sure that any bets are appropriately weighed against earnings prospects, he said. “While we have to make certain decisions to manage the inherent risks and protect the margins in our crushing and our distribution and milling assets, we try to absolutely stay out of the way of any big changes that can happen,” Heckman said.   He’s No. 67 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies   Headquarters: White Plains, NY Age: 56 Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. First joined company: 2018 Prior to joining Bunge: CEO of the Gavilon Group Named CEO: 2019    

Rite Aid’s Newest CEO Heyward Donigan Comes With A Proven Track...

Rite Aid has a new CEO: veteran healthcare executive Heyward Donigan, who last month replaced John Standley. She comes with a proven track record.

Under New CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer Is Reshaping Itself

Under new CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer is reshaping itself through both acquisitions and spin-offs.

Under CEO And Co-Founder Kelcy L. Warren, Energy Transfer Goes International

[caption id="attachment_70377" align="alignright" width="696"] Kecly Warren Photo credit:  The University of Texas System[/caption] Energy Transfer, co-founded by CEO Kelcy L. Warren, is expanding internationally. The Dallas-based diversified energy company is opening an office in in Beijing, China—the firm’s first office outside the U.S.—to support the marketing and sales of energy products there, including liquefied natural gas, ethane, propane, butane, natural gasoline and crude oil. The effort is facilitated by Energy Transfer’s joint venture with China-based Satellite Petrochemical to facilitate the export of ethane to China, announced last year. Within the U.S., Orbit Gulf Coast NGL Exports LLC is currently constructing a pipeline that will transport ethane from Energy Transfer’s Mont Belvieu, Texas fractionation and storage facilities to a new ethane terminal adjacent to Energy Transfer’s Nederland, Texas NGL facility. Once the pipeline is completed, roughly 150,000 barrels per day of ethane will be exported to Satellite’s ethane cracking facilities in China. In addition, Energy Transfer has a 50/50 venture with Shell US LNG LLC to convert Energy Transfer’s LNG import and regasification terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana to an LNG export facility. The project will give the facility a liquefaction capacity of 16.45 million tonnes per annum for export to customers in China and other global markets. Warren is chairman and CEO Energy Transfer LP, a publicly traded limited partnership with core operations that include complementary natural gas midstream, intrastate and interstate transportation and storage assets; crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined product transportation and terminalling assets; NGL fractionation; and various acquisition and marketing assets. The company, through its ownership of Energy Transfer Operating L.P., formerly known as Energy Transfer Partners L.P., also owns the general partner interests, the incentive distribution rights and 28.5 million common units of Sunoco LP and the general partner interests and 39.7 million common units of USA Compression Partners LP. Prior to the combination of the operations of ETO and Heritage Propane in 2004, Warren co-founded the entities that acquired and operated the midstream assets that were contributed in the merger. From 1996 to 2000, he served as a director of Crosstex Energy Inc. and from 1993 to 1996, Warren served as president, chief operating officer and a director of Cornerstone Natural Gas Inc. Warren was appointed to a six-year term on The University of Texas System Board of Regents by Governor Greg Abbott in March 2019. Recently, President Donald Trump appointed Warren to the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees. He’s No. 59 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies Headquarters: Dallas, TX Age: 64 Education: B.A., University of Texas Arlington First joined company: Founded it in 1996 Prior to joining Energy Transfer: Cornerstone Natural Gas Named CEO: 1996

Under CEO Thomas L. Bené, Sysco Forges Ahead With Strategic Plans

Under CEO Thomas L. Bené, food distributor Sysco continues to beat Wall Street expectations.

Charles F. Lowrey Leading Prudential Financial’s Expanded Emphasis On Global Markets

Charles F. Lowrey, a Prudential Financial, veteran with deep experience in international operations, is now leading the Newark, N.J. company as the entire industry expands its emphasis on global markets.

New MetLife CEO Michel A. Khalaf Talks About The Company’s Progress

MetLife is “making steady progress towards establishing a track record of consistent execution,” Michel A. Khalaf said in his first earnings conference call presiding as CEO.
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