3 Top Companies Led by Women CEOs

March 8, 2022

While the news headlines right now are full of stories of uncertainty amid war, investors should be aware that there are also positive things happening in our world.

One of these is the progress that women are making in the corporate world. In the pursuit of true equality in the employment world, International Women’s Day today (8 March) is, among many other things, also a celebration of female empowerment and progress over the years.

In the investing world, there are countless studies where women have proved themselves to be better long-term investors than men.

For example, in Fidelity’s 2021 Investing and Women Study – that looked at a decade’s worth of investment performance from 5.2 million customer accounts during 2010-2020 – it turned out women’s annualised investment returns were 0.4% higher than men’s.

Among the many reasons for this outperformance is women’s tendency to trade less, think more long term and invest more consistently.

So, to celebrate women, I thought it would be worth looking at three female CEOs (at top-notch US companies) that are leading lights for women in the business world.

1. AMD – Lisa Su

In 2014, when Lisa Su – the then-Chief Operating Officer (COO) of semiconductor firm Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NASDAQ: AMD) – was promoted to the position of CEO, the company was in trouble.

Also referred to Dr. Su, given she has an incredible trifecta of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she has been instrumental in helping turned around the flailing chip company.

Since having stolen a lead on the likes of chip giant Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) by focusing all its energy on just designing (and not manufacturing) chips, AMD’s results have been phenomenal.

In 2015, the first full year of Dr Su’s reign as CEO, AMD’s business was going through problems as it made the transition. Revenue came in at US$4 billion for the whole of 2015 while it also posted an operating loss of US$253 million.

Fast forward to today and looking at 2021’s full-year earnings, the contrast is striking. Last year, AMD posted revenue of US$16.4 billion and an operating income of US$3.6 billion.

2. General Motors – Mary Barra

For traditional automakers such as General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), the rise of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) has upended the status quo.

However, that doesn’t mean that General Motors – also known as GM – hasn’t been innovating under its leadership. A big part of its story in recent years has been its highly-publicised push into the EV space.

And that has come under the stewardship of CEO Mary Barra, a highly-respected veteran in the auto industry having been with the company since 1980.

Taking over the CEO role in 2014, Barra has increasingly pivoted towards the EV and autonomous driving space. One great example of this is “Cruise”, which is GM’s self-driving car service that aims to be the first truly driverless ridehail service.

Under Barra, GM is aiming for Cruise to generate up to US$50 billion in annual revenue by the end of this decade – a lofty ambition.

All this has been achieved under her leadership and has come as a lot of other automakers belatedly realise they’re behind the curve in terms of developing EVs.

3. FIGS – Heather Hasson and Trina Spear

Finally we have FIGS Inc (NYSE: FIGS), a direct-to-consumer healthcare apparel brand which is wildly popular with healthcare professionals.

Disrupting the area of “scrubs”, which is what doctors, surgeons, physicians and nurses wear on a daily basis, co-founders and co-CEOs Heather Hasson and Trina Spear have managed to make healthcare clothing both fashionable and, crucially, comfortable.

Finding a niche that not many retailers and designers focused on, both Hasson and Spear looked to transform the kit that healthcare professionals donned, by focusing on design, as well as innovative and functional products.

The results have been impressive. While FIGS is officially releasing its full-year results on, coincidentally, International Women’s Day, the company did release preliminary full-year earnings in early January that stated that full-year 2021 revenues were expected to be around US$419 million, up 59% year-on-year versus 2020.

The company has also reiterated its long-term goal of generating over US$1 billion in annual revenues by 2025 and achieving a gross margin of 70%.

Celebrating and encouraging gender diversity

For long-term investors, it’s always important to recognise the impact women are making in the business world and ensuring that the drive for true gender equality continues.

Fortunately, we have many great examples of female leaders – like Lisa Su, Mary Barra, Heather Hasson and Trina Spears – that hold the top jobs in the C-suites of some of the world’s most exciting companies.

Disclaimer: ProsperUs Head of Content & Investment Lead Tim Phillips owns shares of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Tim Phillips

Tim, based in Singapore but from Hong Kong, caught the investing bug as a teenager and is a passionate advocate of responsible long-term investing as a great way to build wealth.

He has worked in various content roles at Schroders and the Motley Fool, with a focus on Asian stocks, but believes in buying great businesses – wherever they may be. He is also a certified SGX Academy Trainer.

In his spare time, Tim enjoys running after his two young sons, playing football and practicing yoga.

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