Special Report

The Highest Paid CEOs at America’s 100 Largest Companies

Already making hundreds of times what most Americans earn in a year, CEOs at top U.S. corporations received a pay raise in 2016. The average executive officer at one of the nation’s 100 largest public companies brought in $16.6 million last year compared to $15.5 million in 2015.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed total compensation packages for CEOs at the 100 largest public U.S. companies by revenue from executive-level data collector Equilar. Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge tops the list, with total annual compensation of $98.0 million. This includes $78 million in stock option grants.

Meanwhile Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett remains the lowest paid of the group, with annual compensation of $487,881. Buffett is the only CEO listed with annual compensation under $3 million.

Click here to see the what CEOs are paid at the nation’s 100 largest public companies.

CEOs at large U.S. corporations make decisions that can make or lose a company millions of dollars. Even when changes in a company’s fortunes are not attributed to decisions of the CEO, the CEO is often still held responsible. These high stakes are often used to justify the massive pay packages. And CEOs are watched very closely by shareholders.

Executive compensation does not always track with performance, however. The share price of more than a quarter of the 100 companies on this list declined in 2016. Some of the top performing companies — such as truck manufacturer Paccar whose shares climbed 34.8% in 2016 and electronics design firm Arrow Electronics whose shares jumped 31.6% in 2016 — pay their CEOs relatively little compared with other large U.S. public companies.

Similarly, CEOs at companies with the largest revenues do not necessarily have the largest pay packages. Most notably, the lowest paid CEO, Warren Buffett, is CEO of the largest company on this list. With annual revenue of $223.6 billion, Berkshire Hathaway overtook Apple as the largest company.

To identify the highest and lowest paid CEOs at America’s largest companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed total compensation packages for CEOs at the 100 largest public U.S. companies by revenue that filed proxy statements covering 2016 before April 1 from executive-level data collector Equilar. Because Oracle has two CEOs, there are 101 executives listed.

Total compensation is defined as salary, bonus, stock and options valued at grant date, and other compensation as disclosed in the summary compensation table of company proxy statements. This figure excludes pension and deferred compensation values. Annual revenue figures are for fiscal 2016 or the latest available fiscal year and come from financial reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Share price changes in 2016 (December 31, 2015 – December 30, 2016) were obtained from Google finance.

These are the highest and lowest paid CEOs at America’s top 100 companies.

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