Profiles - Biggest Public Companies
The Feb. 10 engine room fire on the Carnival Triumph didn’t injure anyone. But the slow-mo PR disaster that unfolded on the four-day slog back to Mobile, Ala., knocked $2 billion off Carnival’s market cap. The real stock retreat came in the ensuing weeks and months: Investors looked at the costs — lost time at sea, equipment failure, bad publicity — and Carnival’s loss of pricing power as it discounted to woo the public back. By spring, $4 billion in market cap was gone.
Carnival, and its chairman, billionaire Micky Arison, have been there before. In January 2012, its subsidiary’s Costa Concordia wound up on its side while skirting an Italian island. That accident killed 32. It also clobbered Carnival’s finances and stock, but the company’s share price rebounded within a year. It helps that Carnival dominates the industry with its 10 brands, 100 ships, more than 200,000 berths and a global reach. There are alternatives — No. 2 cruise company Royal Caribbean (No. 10 on our list ), for instance — but it’s hard for the cruising public to abandon Carnival without abandoning cruising.
— Mike Vogel
When Bain Capital and Catterton Partners offered to purchase OSI Restaurant Partners for $3.2 billion seven years ago, the Tampa-based restaurant operator looked like a good bet. Best known for its Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse chain, the company’s margins had been declining for several years, but sales growth was strong — the company turned a $100-million profit in 2006. And with more than 1,400 locations, the company owned lots of real estate. By 2009, however, sales had stopped growing.
Turnaround firm AlixPartners helped the new owners identify cost savings and recommended the appointment of former Avon executive Liz Smith as CEO. Smith implemented productivity and cost management initiatives that have saved the restaurant operator more than $200 million and helped refresh the company’s five brands. By 2011, the Tampa-based restaurant chain, now called Bloomin’ Brands, was back in the black, with a $100-million profit. Smith also developed a plan to renew growth that includes revamped menus and updated décor at the Outback and Carrabba’s restaurants. Bloomin’ Brands also has moved a number of its Outback restaurants to more prime locations, boosting average sales by about 40% at some spots.
— Amy Keller
“Work is no longer a place,” Citrix President and CEO Mark Templeton told analysts earlier this year. That’s good news for Citrix, the cloud-based software company whose strong suit is allowing people to remotely tap into their employers’ networks and applications, enabling employees to log into Microsoft Word or Excel without having to install or upgrade software on individual computers. The movement to cloud computing suits it fine.
Citrix products include XenDesktop, NetScaler, GoToMeeting and GoToMyPC, the last of which lets people access their desktop computer remotely from a browser, Android or Apple device. Analyst firm IDC has rated GoToMyPC best in remote access for five years running. “While freemium products continue to exhibit growth, holistic packages such as GoToMyPC ultimately remain more attractive to the end user,” IDC analyst Ben Hoffman said.
With so many employees using so many forms of mobile devices, Citrix offers corporations an alternative to deploying tons of different answers to get them all to connect — “any app, any device, anywhere,” as the mantra goes. Citrix foresees a $16-billion market by 2015.
Citrix is still at the mercy of companies’ individual IT budgets. It missed expectations in the first quarter and lowered profit forecasts for the year. Even so, it grew its workforce 19% last year and is expecting to do the same this year. “Consistently, CIOs everywhere tell me they are challenged by the transformation, consumerization and fragmentation taking place in computing. These forces are creating even more interest in mobility and cloud services,” Templeton says.
— Mike Vogel