The study of proxy statements conducted for The Wall Street Journal by management consultancy Hay Group found the sharpest pay gains came via bonuses, which soared 19.7% as profits recovered, especially in some hard-hit industries. The rise followed a year in which pay for the top boss was flat at these companies.
According to the WSJ, profits and share prices increased even more than CEO compensation. Net income rose by a median of 17%; shareholders at those companies enjoyed a median return, including dividends, of 18%.
CEOs of media companies claimed four of the top 10 spots: Viacom, CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc.
However, several chief executives experienced sizable drops in pay. Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s Ray Irani saw his 2010 compensation shrink 71% to $14.9 million. The news report said the decline mainly grew out of a shareholder backlash that prompted the big oil concern to set a new policy last year cutting its longtime leader’s maximum compensation by nearly three quarters.
The Journal measured CEO pay by total direct compensation, which includes salary, bonuses and the granted value of stock, stock options and other long-term incentives given for service in fiscal 2010. That figure excludes the value of exercised stock options and the vesting of restricted stock. The survey covered the 350 biggest companies that filed proxies between May 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011.More information is here.