8 Tales of Corporate Comebacks

  • Comeback Kids

    Americans love a good comeback story, which is why a lot of people will be watching to see if movie rental giant Blockbuster will be able to rebound after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. While Blockbuster will face an uphill battle if it hopes to compete with Netflix, a comeback is still possible. Here are eight companies that faced disaster and then staged a comeback in a big way. Photo Credit: The Consumerist
    Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Abercrombie & Fitch

    Abercrombie & Fitch (Stock Quote: ANF) T-shirts proudly proclaim that the company was founded in 1892, but the company was almost unrecognizable back then. Founded as a sporting goods store, Abercrombie & Fitch floundered in the mid-20th century and eventually declared bankruptcy in 1977. After being acquired by The Limited (Stock Quote: LTD) in 1988, it morphed into its current operation as an apparel retailer targeting teens, and hasn’t looked back. Photo Credit: Lilly Fashion
    Apple
  • Apple

    It’s hard to imagine Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) without Steve Jobs, but that’s just what happened in the mid-'80s when he left the company after the board rejected his bid to replace then-CEO John Sculley. Apple floundered in his absence, and he returned a decade later to become the new CEO in 1997. Apple proceeded to introduce the iMac, iPod and iPhone under his watchful eye, and the rest is history. Photo Credit: kyz
    ExxonMobil
  • ExxonMobil

    When the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska in 1989, it was the largest oil spill in U.S. history, and Exxon was subsequently found liable for $5 billion in punitive damages – at the time, an amount equal to a single year’s profit for the company. But the award was eventually reduced to $500 million in 2008, and while the company has never recovered in the eyes of environmentalists, ExxonMobil (Stock Quote: XOM) is doing just fine – it’s still the world’s largest publicly traded oil company. Photo Credit: futureatlas.com
    Red Sox and Yankees
  • Red Sox and Yankees

    They might not be publicly traded companies, but these sports franchises are large operations that rake in a combined $700 million a year in revenue. The Yankees hadn’t been to the World Series in nine years when an ownership group led by George Steinbrenner bought them for just $8.7 million in 1973. He went on to renovate Yankee Stadium and take the team back to its winning ways. Now the franchise is worth approximately $1.6 billion. Years later, the Bronx Bombers’ American League East rival had a similar renaissance when an ownership group headed by John Henry bought the Red Sox for $690 million in 2002. The new owners gave Fenway Park a much-needed facelift and led the team to its first championship in 86 years, and the Sox are now the second-most valuable franchise in baseball. Photo Credit: joyosity
    ValuJet
  • ValuJet

    When ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades in 1996, the airline’s high accident rate and history of safety violations finally came to light. ValuJet was subsequently grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, and when it merged with the smaller AirTran Airways a year later it was all too happy to take on a new name and get a fresh start. AirTran rebuilt its reputation and its business, attracting the interest of Southwest Airlines, which has agreed to buy the carrier for $1.4 billion. Photo Credit: Bridget Christian
    Waste Management
  • Waste Management

    A merger with competitor USA Waste was followed by a massive accounting scandal in 1999, and Waste Management (Stock Quote: WM) suddenly found itself in the dumpster. After its share price bottomed out below $14 in 2000, the company gradually pulled itself back into the black under the tutelage of new CEO Maury Myers. Today its stock sits close to $37. Photo Credit: Diaper
    IBM
  • IBM

    In the early '90s, Big Blue looked to be on the verge of going out of business amid intense competition. But IBM’s (Stock Quote: IBM) fortunes began to change with the arrival of former Nabisco CEO Lou Gerstner. Under his leadership, the company focused on the Internet and IT services. Today, the company’s stock is more than $140 a share after bottoming out at close to $10 in 1993. Photo Credit: kansir
    Jack in the Box
  • Jack in the Box

    Jack in the Box (Stock Quote: JACK) was the fifth-largest hamburger chain in the country when tragedy struck in 1993. An E. coli outbreak at several of the chain’s locations sickened hundreds and killed four children. Sales plummeted, and Jack in the Box owner Foodmaker saw its debt downgraded to junk bond status by Moody’s. But the company rebounded by modernizing its safety practices and launching a new ad campaign reintroducing the old mascot, Jack. Today the company operates 2,200 restaurants in 18 states. Photo Credit: Exen and Donabel
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