Be a John, but buy Michael

An article in yesterday’s New York Times observed that,

Among chief executives of S.&P. 1500 firms, for each woman, there are four men named John, Robert, William or James.

What is the situation like in the UK? We don’t have up to date analysis, but below we quote some analysis that appeared in the 2007 edition of the The UK Stock Market Almanac.

What are the predominant christian names of the Chairmen, CEOs, and CFOs of FTSE 100 companies?

The following table shows the frequency of first names of the three major officers in all the FTSE 100 companies.

FistName Chairman CEO CFO Total
John 17 7 6 30
David 3 3 8 14
Philip 2 5 4 11
Michael 4 4 3 11
Andrew 0 3 7 10
Paul 1 4 3 8
Richard 2 3 3 8
Robert 6 0 2 8
Richard 2 3 3 8
Peter 5 0 2 7
Martin 2 2 3 7
Mark 0 1 4 5
Simon 1 1 3 5
Stephen 0 2 3 5

The lesson seems to be: if you want to run a FTSE 100 company, be called John or think of changing your name to John. 17 Chairmen and 7 CEOs of FTSE 100 companies have the first name John. The second most popular name is David.

It’s interesting to note how first names differ between the three roles. Apart from John, Robert and Peter are popular names for Chairmen, Philip is popular with CEOs, and David and Andrew are common for Chief Financial Officers.

What does this tell us?

Probably not very much.

The charts below, however, may give some guidance for investors.

Portfolio of FTSE 100 CEOs named John


Portfolio of FTSE 100 CEOs named Philip

The first chart plots the performance of a portfolio comprised of those FTSE 100 companies whose CEO’s first name is Michael. The second chart is similar, except the CEO’s name is Philip.

The result: Michael out-performs Philip by a wide margin.

Recommendation: buy Michael, sell Philip.

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