TheStreet readers named Symantec's chief as the best tech CEO of 2011.



NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Symantec(:SYMC) CEO Enrique T. Salem is far and away the best tech CEO of 2011, according a poll of TheStreet readers.

Of the more than 500 people that voted, Salem received 60.5% of the vote. Symantec has turned itself around, and is moving into security for cloud computing.

Symantec CEO Enrique T. Salem

Salem told analysts back in October that the acquisition of McAfee by Intel(:INTC) was causing disruption at McAfee, and Symantec was benefiting from that. Symantec has also seen revenue growth in its five most quarters, and the company is expanding its product portfolio to beef up its offerings in enterprise backup, hosted services and data loss prevention products. Symantec is currently working with Salesforce.com(:CRM) to provide its customers with additional cloud security.

Salem won the poll, despite seeing shares of Symantec down almost 10% since the start of the year.

Tied for second place were Sam Palmisano of IBM(:IBM) and Tim Cook of Apple(:AAPL) with 61 votes apiece, or 12.05% of the vote. Apple CEO Tim Cook

Cook took over Apple when co-founder Steve Jobs take a medical leave of absence in early 2011 and did not return before his death in October. The beloved Cupertino, Calif., consumer electronics company has witnessed a relatively smooth transition since Cook was officially named CEO. Shares of Apple are up almost 22% year-to-date, far outpacing the Nasdaq index or S&P 500.

IBM's Palmisano, who is being replaced by Ginni Rometty at the end of the year, successfully transitioned IBM into a company that focuses on higher-margin areas of growth like cloud computing, services and software.

Palmisano has seen his company's stock price rise the most among the group, gaining 22.1% since 2011 started, as investors have rewarded IBM's dependability, strong cash flows, and steady dividend. IBM's Sam Palmisano

John Chambers of Cisco(:CSCO) hit fourth place, capturing 8.5% of the vote.

Cisco started off the year as a company that growth investors had looked past, and they blamed Chambers for poor execution. Chambers has started to turn the $96 billion company around, beating analysts estimates the previous two quarters and guiding higher than Wall Street was looking for.

Shares are off 11.2% since 2011.

Rounding out the top 5: Meg Whitman of HP(:HPQ), with 6.9% of the votes.

Whitman took over HP from Leo Apotheker in September and has communicated better with investors than Apotheker did during his 11 month tenure. She said the company will keep its personal computing unit instead of divesting it, and recently made webOS available for open source.

Shares have largely underperformed this year, losing 40%, compared to a 3.7% gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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