With Proxy Season in Full Swing, CEO Pay Gets Good Look

With Proxy Season in Full Swing, CEO Pay Gets Good Look venimo - Fotolia

Executive compensation is in the spotlight now that more companies have filed their latest proxy statements.

Working with governance research firm Equilar, The New York Times devoted a big chunk of its Sunday business section to analyzing the pay of 100 CEOs whose companies had filed their proxies as of April 4. The media compensation collected by those within that group was $13.9 million—a 9 percent increase over last year. All told, the CEOs included in the Equilar study were paid $1.5 billion last year, slightly more than they collected in 2012, according to the Times.

The Times reports that the application of pay-for-performance metrics to executive compensation is growing more widespread and may have amplified the upward trend evident in CEO pay. “The current system of executive compensation, with its emphasis on performance, can theoretically constrain pay,” the newspaper notes, “but in practice it has not stopped companies from paying their top executives more and more.”

With the stock market continuing to boom, executives could well see their compensation climb even higher, according to the Times. That’s especially true given that a growing number of companies—63 percent as of last year, Equilar found—are relying on stock-based compensation packages to pay executives.

“This is meant to be a good thing,” the Times reports. “Paying in stock can motivate executives to get the share price higher, which, of course, will benefit shareholders.”

When it comes to the question of which industries are the most generous, a separate analysis of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index that have already filed proxies shows that media executives are among the most handsomely rewarded as a group, Bloomberg reports. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, for instance, received compensation totaling $66.9 million last year, just below top-ranked Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison’s $78.4 million package.

Moonves is likely to earn even more this year, given CBS’s stock market performance and the fact that the company moved in February to increase increase his grants of restricted stock by $1.5 million a year, to $11 million, according to Bloomberg.

“This is the fifth consecutive year that the company’s performance significantly exceeded the S&P 500, including a period during which CBS stock appreciated by more than 20 times,” CBS spokesman Dana McClintock told Bloomberg.

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