Study Finds S&P 400 CEO Pay Rose in 2009

May 21, 2010 ( – A new report from Equilar indicates that total S&P 400 CEO compensation rose slightly from 2008 to 2009, and bonuses are on the rise.

Equilar’s analysis based on the proxy filings of 304 companies in the S&P 400 with fiscal years ending between June 30, 2009, and January 31, 2010, also finds that early-2009 equity awards have risen significantly in value due to the market rebound, while 2008 equity awards remain mostly underwater.  

According to a press release, median S&P 400 CEO compensation rose slightly from 2008 to 2009, increasing 1.7%. The median CEO’s pay was $3.76 million in 2009, compared to $3.7 million in 2008.  

Bonus payouts surged from a median of $656,531 in 2008 to a median of $732,331 in 2009, an 11.6% increase. A quarter of CEOs received no bonus this year, compared to 27.8% who received no bonus last year.  

Equilar found bonuses to be responsive to performance, the press release said. CEOs in the top-performing quartile of companies had a median bonus increase of 66.7% from 2008 to 2009, while those in the bottom quartile saw a median bonus decrease of 32.6%.  

Health care CEOs had the highest median total pay, at $5.5 million in 2009. The Consumer Goods and Utilities industries saw the greatest pay growth, with increases of 12.5% and 13.9%, respectively, from 2008 to 2009.   

Options granted in early 2009, when markets were at record lows, were frequently increased in size to compensate for decreased value. These options are seeing major gains in intrinsic value as the market has recovered. However, nearly 71% of options granted in 2008 remain underwater.  

Equilar said all companies in the analysis had CEOs in place for two or more years, to avoid distortion from new-hire awards.  

To request a copy of the report, go to