Several lists of the highest paid CEOs in America are published each year mostly by the business media and shareholder groups. All are based on proxy statements. Long before the lists are published, the boards of directors of these companies try to justify the compensation packages for shareholders. Investors often are skeptical of these defenses, and they should be. It is rare, but not impossible, to show that a chief executive deserves $50 million, or even $100 million a year.
Based on the annual CEO Pay Survey 2011 by GMI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 highest paid CEOs. We then analyzed company performance of the highest paid CEOs to determine which pay packages were worth the investment.
Such a review about management compensation is by its nature subjective and different from a board’s reasoning. A board may take into account the long-term record of a CEO who has held his or her job for several years. The board might set a pay package based on an extraordinary year. The directors also may pay a CEO well just before he or she retires. 24/7 Wall St. has downplayed each of these factors, but has not eliminated them. Our judgment of “fairness” is based on what shareholders received in the year as the CEO’s compensation year. Our primary measurements are revenue growth, earnings growth and stock price change.
This is the 24/7 Wall St. list of the 10 highest paid CEOs for 2010 and an analysis of whether their compensations were worth the payments in terms of shareholder returns. All compensation considerations used to set pay, which include board of director criteria from each company, come from SEC-filed proxies.