Major media cannot agree on something as simple and critical as what the highest paid CEOs in America made last year. Most of the data come from proxies filed with the SEC. Much of the difference in the calculations is based on the value of stock operations and other equity related grants and pension/retirement funds.
Even if the differences are reasonable due to a wide variety of interpretations of proxy data, the gulf between two of the top sets of analysts are huge.
Take the spread between Forbes and CNBC. Many CEOs appear on only one list. In the case where chief executives appear on both, there is a disagreement about compensation:
The top earner in our report is McKesson‘s John H. Hammergren, with $131 million in total pay. Hammergren drew $6.3 million in salary and bonus, but also realized $112 million from the exercise of vested stock options. The next four top-paid chief executives, also earning most of their pay from exercised stock options or vested stock awards: Ralph Lauren of Ralph Lauren ($67 million); Michael D. Fascitelli of Vornado Realty ($64 million); Richard Kinder of Kinder Morgan ($61 million) and David M. Cote of Honeywell International ($56 million).
And CNBC picked Rupert Murdoch (News Corp) (NYSE:NWS)–$33 million, Robert Iger (Disney–33.4 million) (NYSE: DIS), David Cote (Honeywell)–$35.8 million, Philippe Dauman (Viacom) (NYSE: VIA)–$43.1 million, John Hammergren (McKesson)–$46.1 million, David Zaslav (Discovery Communications)–$52.4 million, Ronald B. Johnson (JC Penney) (NYSE: JCP) $53.2 million, Larry Ellison (Oracle) (NASDAQ: ORCL)–$77.5 million, David Simon (Simon Property Group)–$137.17 million, Timothy Cook (Apple) (NASDAQ: AAPL)–$377.99 million
The difference also raise the issue of whether some boards overpay CEOs or not. That is hard to determine if there is disagreement on the fundamentals of pay packages