With John B. McCoy down, is Edward E. Crutchfield Jr. of First Union Corp. next?
Analysts say no, though both banking companies face similar problems: botched mergers that forced them to indicate to analysts that they will fall short of earnings expectations. And the stocks of both companies have been down more than 40% from their 1999 highs.
But some analysts, including David Stumpf of A.G. Edwards in St. Louis, say Mr. Crutchfield is in a much stronger position than Mr. McCoy.
"You can make a case that Bank One's problems go deeper than First Union's," he said.
Katrina Blecher, an analyst for Brown Brothers Harriman in New York, said First Union "has demonstrated it has a clear-cut strategy to get the retail division back on track," while "Bank One has yet to develop a definitive strategy."
These analysts said Mr. Crutchfield's First Union is much further along in its recovery than Bank One and that it has delivered a plan to Wall Street showing how it expects to regain its footing. Bank One, which originally said it would meet with analysts in November to discuss its strategy, backed out of a scheduled conference after an announcement in October that its earnings would fall short of similar warnings in August.
The Charlotte, N.C., company's chairman and chief executive officer "is a strong leader and most people - including the board and even the naysayers. Don't fault Ed with his vision," Mr. Stumpf said. "He probably has had a more accurate vision of the future than most. What you fault him on is execution of the position of the company."
But along with the banking company's plans to revamp its retail branches, Mr. Stumpf said, First Union is well positioned with its investment bank and capital markets business lines, which have been contributing to the bottom line.
Meanwhile, Bank One, which had been betting on big revenue gains from its lagging First USA division, has yet to come up with a story for Wall Street on how the Chicago banking company will return to its earnings gains of recent years.
First Union's board also fully backs Mr. Crutchfield, said First Union spokeswoman Virginia Mackin.