CEO Of The Year Nominees: 6) Ian M. Cook Of Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

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24/7 Wall St. will name its annual CEO of the Year next week. The executive will be picked from a field of ten which we will profile this week

The CEOs are chosen on the basis of their company’s stock market and financial performances compared with their own industry groups and all large companies traded on US markets. Only firms with market caps of more than $5 billion were considered. 24/7 reviewed revenue growth, operating margins, balance sheets, return on assets, and return on equity.

Barron’s recently made a comment about Colgate-Palmolive (CL): "As a manufacturer of deodorant, dishwashing soap, and pet food, Colgate-Palmolive is a purveyor of `must-have products,’  putting it in a strong position, and on track for double-digit earnings growth in 2009."

It may be true that CL has a certain "recession proof" quality to it because it sells relatively inexpensive products that most consumers will not drop during a tough economy, but the firm has blown through most Wall St. expectations.

In the last quarter, Colgate-Palmolive had operating earnings of $768 million on revenue of $4 billion. Both numbers jumped from the same period a year ago.The firm set market share records across a number of its products.

Part of the company’s strength is its geographic diversity. North America represents only 18% of sales. Latin American, a region which has avoided some of the worst of the recession, has 27% of the company’s business.

Ian Cook took over from business legend Reuben Mark. It would be a mistake to assume the he has not had his own significant influence on the company. He has been there 35 years.

So far this year, Colgate’s stock has substantially outperformed the DJIA. Cook deserves credit for keeping the company on course.

Other candidates:

Samuel Palmisano of IBM (IBM)

Lee Scott of Wal-Mart (WMT)

Steve Jobs of Apple (AAPL)

James Dimon of JPMorgan (JPM)

Robert Iger of Disney (DIS)

Douglas A. McIntyre