1. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 48.3%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 359.9%
> Total employees: 51,200
> Total CEO compensation: $14.2 million
Time Warner Cable is one of the nation’s largest telecom companies, with revenue of more than $22 billion and operating income of $4.6 billion last year. Although Time Warner Cable is not growing especially quickly, it continues to generate large amounts of cash from its operations and return profits to shareholders. The company’s stock has been one of the S&P 500’s better performers over the past twelve months, up 48.3% in that time. Some of the stock price rally is the result of the company’s deal with Comcast, which agreed in February to acquire Time Warner Cable. The merger will combine the nation’s two largest cable operators. But while shareholders reap the benefits of the deal, many employees may be left in the lurch as a result. Part of the deal’s appeal is an estimated $1.5 billion in savings from operating efficiencies, which may include job cuts. According to Glassdoor.com, the average customer service representative at Time Warner Cable makes just $11.85 an hour, and the average inbound sales representative earns just $11.41 an hour.
2. Public Storage (NYSE: PSA)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 12.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 156.7%
> Total employees: 5,200
> Total CEO compensation: $9.2 million
Public Storage owns more than 2,200 self-storage facilities across the U.S. and Europe. Because of its low-cost business model, Public Storage recorded a nearly 50% operating margin in its latest fiscal year, higher than nearly all other companies in the S&P 500. Its earnings were actually higher than its operating income because of the earnings it recorded from its investments in Shurgard Europe, a European storeage company, and PS Business Parks, a U.S. commercial real estate company. While highly profitable, Public Storage pays the average relief manager just $10.57 per hour, and the average property manager only $10.50 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com.
3. Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NASDAQ: KORS)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 49.7%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 290.3%
> Total employees: 9,184
> Total CEO compensation: $7.6 million
Michael Kors’ retail operations have grown rapidly in recent years, with comparable store sales up 26.2% last year, due largely to increased sales of accessories and watches.The company also added more than 100 new stores in most recent fiscal last year. Alongside the expansion, total operating expenses increased considerably during fiscal 2013 by about $331 million. As a percent of revenue, however, the company’s operating costs actually declined. While the overall dollar amount allocated to salaries increased from the previous fiscal year, Kors sales associates are paid an average of just $10.37 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, although they can also earn commissions.
4. McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD)
> 1-yr. stock price change: 5.1%
> 5-yr. stock price change: 72.0%
> Total employees: 440,000
> Total CEO compensation: $9.5 million
Despite CEO Donald Thomson’s claims last July that McDonald’s has “always been an above-minimum wage employer,” the fast food chain is well-known for its low wages. Thomson, himself is paid quite well. He earned close to $9.5 million in total compensation last year. While McDonald’s operating income increased each year for the last six years as of fiscal 2013, wages of lower level employees often barely exceed the minimum wage. An average crew member at the fast food chained earned an average of $7.77 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com data. In March, workers in three states filed lawsuits against the company and several franchisees, claiming they had been illegally underpaid. Among the specific allegations raised in the lawsuit were that workers were forced to work unpaid overtime and had hours shaved off of their timecards.