Every year, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) sets the compensation for its management. One factor it uses is the pay of executives in its “peer group.” These are companies that Apple competes with as it fills executive positions, or companies that might lure its management away.
According to the Apple proxy’s description of how its board views its peer group:
A primary peer group was developed for reference consisting of U.S.-based, stand-alone, publicly traded companies in the technology, media, and internet services industries that, in the Compensation Committee’s view, compete with Apple for talent.
Interestingly, because the peers have to be U.S.-based, some of Apple’s deadliest competitors are not on the list. This includes Samsung. Presumably, Apple would not take executives from Samsung, nor Samsung from Apple. That supposition may not be true. Some other companies are notably missing. Among those is Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), which is Apple’s primary rival, along with Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), in the streaming media business.
These are the companies Apple’s board has chosen:
Amazon.com, Disney, IBM, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, eBay, Intel, Twenty-First Century Fox, CBS, EMC, Microsoft, Verizon, Cisco Systems, Facebook, Oracle, Viacom, Comcast, Google (now Alphabet), Qualcomm, DIRECTV, Hewlett-Packard, and Time Warner
It is absurd to think that Apple competes with an auction operation like eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) or router company like Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO). However, compensation consultants need to earn their compensation. That may have caused one or two companies that don’t make sense to be added to the list.
Apple’s board has given the world a list of companies that might take its management, even if the list has some odd additions.