Executive compensation packages

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013
Executive compensation packages story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The numbers are in, and they say that while unemployment rates remain high here in Michigan and across the country, executive pay keeps soaring.

Tonight, in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe wonders how anyone can make the argument anymore that “we’re all in this together.”

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I have no objection to people being paid what they're worth.

Everybody wants that. Whether you’re making pickles in Holland, car parts in Grand Rapids, or working a checkout counter in Kalamazoo.

Trouble is, according to statistics, workers today are taking home less in real weekly wages than they did in the 1970s.

Meantime, Chief Executives of the 200 biggest public companies in the United States are doing somewhat better.

Their median compensation clocks in a something more than $15-million dollars a year—a 16 percent jump from the year before, eight times what it was in the 50s, and double what it was in the 90s.

The late Peter Drucker, a prolific author whose writings contributed greatly to the philosophical and practical foundation of the modern business corporation, said that once the pay ration exceeds 25 to 1, it becomes hard for management to make the case that 'we’re all in this together.' Particularly,” he said, “when it’s clear that company leaders have isolated themselves from any risk.”

In other words, if the company goes down the tubes, for bad management, or any other reason, they’ll walk away with their millions, smile, and ask “what’s next.” Not so for even the most loyal workers.

Modern corporate practice has left Drucker’s philosophy in the dust.

Talk about a disconnect!

Today’s executives are earning 200 to 500 times what their lowest paid workers are making. The word obscene pops in my mind.

In an editorial on Sunday, the New York Times asked if CEOs are overpaid, or worth every penny.

And while it didn’t really answer the question, it said we need more detail about the obvious gaps in pay because it could help policy makers and economists detect emerging asset bubbles and impending crashes, which generally correlate with rising income disparities.

But corporations resist offering such detailed information—even though the law says they must—because, they say, somewhat cynically, that coming up with it is a statistical nightmare.

These giant corporations are publicly held, which means management has to answer to stockholders.

But much of that stock is held by investment funds and managed accounts and its not likely that Harry and Mary Hotchkiss from Poughkeepsie are going to raise a fuss over compensation packages.

It's very likely they don’t even know they have any stock in this company or that one.

And that leaves a highly-paid board of directors—many of whom are there because they are like minded—to set the salaries, bonuses, benefits, stock and option grants.

It’s a club—a club of well compensated people making sure they all stay well compensated.

It's not a matter of what someone needs, it’s a matter of keeping score. It’s a club thing.

For the record, large companies in Europe often have worker representatives on their boards as a check against bloated pay packages.
 
Just for the sake of discussion, lets pretend the CEO at company “x” chose to take just $3 million a year instead of the median $15 million; he might have to sell his house in the Hamptons, or maybe one of his jets.
 
But there would be enough left over to give 600 employees raises of $20,000. Think of the ripples that would have on a local economy. If everyone did that, think about the ripples across the country.

I know that’s not going to happen. Wishful thinking. But it would go a long, long way toward establishing the thought that we, as working, caring, industrious Americans really are all in this together.

In this corner... I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 20, 2014 17:13 GMT

APPLE-STOCK

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Apple's stock touched a new high Wednesday, reflecting investors' renewed faith in CEO Tim Cook's ability to outwit the competition and expand the technological hit factory built by the late Steve Jobs.

The milestone represents a dramatic turnaround in sentiment since Apple's shares reached its previous split-adjusted peak of $100.72 in September 2012. The shares peaked at $100.77 Wednesday morning, giving it a market value of roughly $600 billion -- more than any other publicly held company.

Apple's stock fell to a split-adjusted $55.01 in April 2013 to wipe out about $300 billion in shareholder wealth amid worries that the Cupertino, California, company had run out of ideas without Jobs as its mastermind.

Those concerns have faded amid high hopes for an iPhone with a bigger screen.

EARNS-TARGET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Target has slashed its annual profit outlook as the retailer continues to reel from a massive data breach, a disappointing expansion in Canada and sluggish sales in the U.S.

The nation's third-largest retailer also said Wednesday that its second-quarter earnings dropped 61.7 percent.

The Minneapolis-based company says it earned $234 million, or 37 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Aug. 2, compared with earnings of $611 million, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 1.7 percent to $17.4 billion, slightly above the $17.38 billion estimate from FactSet.

Excluding expenses related to the breach, the company earned 78 cents per share, which was in line with Target's reduced estimate issued earlier in the month.

Analysts had expected 79 cents per share, according to FactSet.

EARNS-LOWE'S

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Lowe's second-quarter net income increased 10 percent, bolstered by improving weather.

The home improvement company's performance beat analysts' expectations, but the Mooresville, North Carolina, company lowered its full-year revenue outlook slightly, citing its year-to-date sales and prior assumptions for the second half.

Lowe's Cos. earned $1.04 billion, or $1.04 per share, for the three months ended Aug. 1. A year earlier it earned $941 million, or 88 cents per share.

Analysts expected $1.02 per share.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $16.6 billion from $15.71 billion, topping Wall Street's $16.57 billion forecast.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, climbed 4.4 percent.

Lowe's now anticipates full-year revenue rising about 4.5 percent. Its prior outlook was for an approximately 5 percent increase.

BARNES & NOBLE-SAMSUNG

B&N and Samsung introduce co-branded tablet

NEW YORK (AP) -- Barnes & Noble and Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a new co-branded tablet called the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook that will replace B&N's own Nook tablets.

The 7-inch tablet will sell for $179 after a $20 instant rebate, the same entry price of the non-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

The move had been expected, since Barnes & Noble said in June it would team up with Samsung to develop Nook tablets that would be available in August.

For the first time, the Nook will have a front- and rear-facing camera. It comes with more than $200 in content from the Nook Store, including books, TV shows and magazines. However, apps are limited to Nook apps rather than the full suite of Android apps available on Google Play.

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY-SETTLEMENT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Warren Buffett's company has agreed to an $896,000 penalty for failing to tell regulators about a December 2013 investment in wallboard maker USG Corp.

The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. should have notified the Justice Department before it converted $325 million of senior USG notes it held into 21.4 million shares of the company.

Because Berkshire was already a significant USG shareholder, antitrust laws required it to notify regulators because of the size of the deal.

Regulators say Berkshire made a similar mistake six months earlier when it acquired securities in Symetra Financial Corp.

Berkshire officials did not immediately respond to questions about the settlement Wednesday.

Besides investments, Berkshire owns more than 80 subsidiaries in a variety of industries, including insurance, utilities, railroads, retail and manufacturing.

CUTLERY MAKER-BANKRUPTCY

BUCKLAND, Mass. (AP) -- The nation's oldest cutlery manufacturer has filed for bankruptcy after 177 years of making knives and other kitchen tools.

The Recorder of Greenfield reports that Lamson & Goodnow Manufacturing Co. of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month, which protects the company from creditors as it reorganizes.

The business has also put its 18-acre factory complex up for sale.

According to federal bankruptcy court in Springfield, the company filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of two multimillion dollar loans it could not repay. The company owes $1 million on a U.S. Small Business Administration loan and more than $2 million to the small business corporation in New York.

Founded in 1837, the company has been owned by James Ross Anderson since 1998.

HOUSE GOP-BUSINESS GROUP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is stepping in to help an establishment-preferred Republican in a bruising three-way Arizona primary in one of the most competitive House districts in the country.

The powerful business group is putting hundreds of thousands of dollars behind a television ad for state House Speaker Andy Tobin, who has struggled to raise money. His two rivals -- businessman and rancher Gary Kiehne and state lawmaker Adam Kwasman -- are already on the air with TV ads.

The primary is Tuesday but early voting began July 31.

The Chamber ad, which begins airing on Thursday, focuses on Tobin, calling him a "rock solid conservative," and the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

The commercial makes no mention of the two other Republican candidates.

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