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24/7 Wall St.: Best CEOs of 2012

David Nelms

Company: Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS)
Share price YTD: +63%

Discover’s greatest challenge is that it is second in its industry to American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) and competes indirectly with bank cards connected to Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA). Nelms took over as CEO in 2004. One of the most critical strategic moves he made is the takeover of smaller rival Diners Club in early 2008. The consolidation helped keep Discover competitive because it expanded the company’s market share overseas. More recently, but just as important, is the extent to which Discover has evolved into a lending company, with sizable student and home loan businesses. “Discover Home Loan” was launched in June. Nelms also has buttressed international operations with a deal to move the company more aggressively into China and Russia.

(iStock)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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