More details are out on which companies spent more in 2008 on executive stock grants than on employee pensions, and other important expenses.
The study in The Analyst’s Accounting Observer that I wrote about yesterday has now been released to the press, and with it much more detail on the companies which prioritize options and restricted stock grants over other promises. The idea behind the report, its author writes, is partly to shed light on what is being put into stock compensation versus other obligations (like pensions) and opportunities.
Forty companies put more than five times their pension contributions toward stock grants, though all but two of them have plans that owe more than their current assets. And some companies with pension shortfalls put nothing at all into those plans last year, but still gave out stock compensation.
Among them: Telecom giant Sprint Nextel, with an $805 million pension shortfall, and 2008 stock grants of $142 million; High-end insurer Chubb, which saw its pension underfunding grow from $249 million in 2007 to $636 million in 2008, and issued $95 million in stock-based pay; and drug store chain CVS, with a $260 million pension hole and $169 million in stock grants or options.
As a group, the companies in the S&P 500 with pension plans contributed $39.8 billion to their pensions last year, the report’s author, Jack Ciesielski calculates, while giving out $64.4 billion in stock options and restricted shares. That’s the third year in a row pensions have lost out to stock compensation.
Both pension plans and the value of stock grants were hit by the stock market decline last year, but that the amount of new options granted in 2008 did not decline from the year before. Restricted stock grants actually rose 25% last year.
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