Brian Kelley — Keurig Cold
Since Brian Kelley was announced as the new CEO of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) on Nov. 20, 2012, GMCR stock has achieved a total return of 176% — 161 percentage points higher than Coca-Cola (KO), Kelley’s former employer. Kelley was specifically hired for his “strong combination of operational expertise, consumer product and brand experience and strategic insight,” said Michael J. Mardy, then-Interim Chairman of the Board.
Kelley left a position where he was in charge of 68,000 Coke employees in order to jump aboard a maturing business like GMCR that’s still growing. The leader in single-serve coffee, GMCR was suffering from K-cup fatigue. It needed to bring in someone who could strengthen its existing business from an operational standpoint while still moving forward with interesting innovations like the Keurig Cold, which it’s expected to unveil in fiscal 2015. At a December beverage industry conference, Kelley revealed that the new system would achieve carbonation without a CO2 cylinder, something the SodaStream (SODA) system can’t.
While Kelley’s managed to solidify GMCR’s business — and the price of its stock — the big test will come when it actually introduces Keurig Cold. If the machine is a hit, this stock will blast well into triple digits. Long-time shareholders must be thrilled with Kelley’s performance over the past 13 months. As for other investors … I’m not sure they even know who he is.