CEO pay saw big jumps in 2010

A new study says the total realized compensation for top bosses in the S&P 500 rose by a median 36.5%.

By Kim Peterson Dec 15, 2011 1:12PM
Last year was great for health care executives. Two of them topped the list for the highest-paid CEOs of 2010.

But even those who weren't in the health care industry saw nice pay increases. The total realized compensation for CEOs in the Standard & Poor's 500 rose by a median 36.5%. That's according to a new study on executive pay from GMI.

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The highest-paid CEO was John Hammergen of McKesson Corp. (MCK), who received $145.3 million in pay for 2010. And that was a year when McKesson stock didn't really do all that much. Shares started out in the $63 range and roller-coastered to $70.

You won't see any Wall Street bankers on the top 10 list. You won't see Steve Jobs of Apple (AAPL), either, even though he was widely regarded as one of the top-performing CEOs in the world that year.

You will see a lot of names that aren't too familiar to investors. Here's the rest of the top 10:

2. Joel Gemunder of Omnicare (OCR). Total compensation: $98.3 million.

3. John Plant of TRW Automotive Holdings (TRW). Total compensation: $76.8 million.

4. Frank Coyne of Verisk Analytics (VRSK). Total compensation: $68.4 million.

5. Thomas Ryan of CVS Caremark (CVS). Total compensation: $68.1 million.

6. Adam Metz of General Growth Properties (GGP). Total compensation: $66.7 million.

7. Ralph Lauren of Polo Ralph Lauren (RL). Total compensation: $66.7 million.

8. Michael Fascitelli of Vornado Realty Trust (VNO). Total compensation: $64.4 million.

9. Ronald Williams of Aetna (AET). Total compensation: $57.8 million.

10. Mario Gabelli of GAMCO Investors (GBL). Total compensation: $56.6 million.

Four of the 10 on this list were retired or terminated executives getting their exit packages, GMI found.

And don't forget all those sweet executive perks, such as country club memberships and personal jets. Perks for CEOs in the S&P 500 rose 11% in 2010.

All these pay increases are particularly notable when you consider that the economy -- and the general performance at public companies -- only saw modest growth in 2010, said GMI's Paul Hodgson in a statement announcing the report.


Dec 15, 2011 3:19PM
Welcome to the Teapublican dream! CEO pay soaring while over half of America is considered low income. I also saw an article where these high priced folks don't plan to hire so they can keep their pay soaring while America starves.
Dec 15, 2011 3:45PM

That is absolutely rediculous amounts of pay for ANY position.  Even the best CEO in the world shouldnt be paid more than 5 million per year.  Especially when you consider that most people have never even heard of them.  How much could they be adding to the bottom line that justifies that level of pay?  Take a look at Tom Ryan of CVS.  That company has cut its store personel down to two per shift in the general store from 4 per shift 4 years ago.  The stock has lingered and overall they have lost ground to Walgreens and Walmart in the drug business.  Walgreens by comparisons has between 4 - 5 employees on the floor per shift.  No wonder CVS is losing ground, they are losing the customer service battle, but its ok Tom Ryan walked off into retirement with plenty of cash.  Every board in america should cap CEO pay at 5 million, unless your talking about the founder of a company. 

Dec 15, 2011 3:54PM
Jumpinjilll, you need to understand this is the way America has always been.. The 1 or 2% of the country that controls ALL the wealth are the ones who will set the rules and laws for the rest of us.. The reason is simple, there are no laws prohibiting them from ripping us off.. Oh, there are moral and ethical considerations but these people are the direct descendants (though not always by blood) of the Robber Barons of yesteryear.. They do not think the way you or I do, their wealth is their excuse for putting themselves above ANY moral or ethical ambiguities.. They have placed themselves on gold-gilded pedestals for generations!

People like the Goulds, the Rockefellers, the Astors, etc, etc, etc.. They were and are all part and parcel of big businesses designed to use and abuse the poor of America, some of the names may be different but the attitudes are not.. It was the poor immigrant, whose backbreaking labor that put the gold into the coffers of the wealthy and it has never stopped being this way! The rich feel, wrong as it may be, as though they deserve their wealth because they are 'better' then the rest of us.. They don't get it and it's unlikely, until or unless they are forced to live like the rest of us, that they ever will.. That day MAY be here sooner then any of them think!
Dec 15, 2011 5:20PM
I love how people defend the rich for making themselves richer. Look at some of these ceo and you will find they are on the boards of many companies. The ceo's of those companies are on their boards. If you don't give them the pay they want they wont give it to the others on the board. The rich have been lining their pockets at the expense of the middle class for over 30 years. The most wealthy in this country pay less than 20% in federal income taxes. My main question is how much is enough? There are individuals in this country  that can spend a million dollars a day and never run out of money. When things get tough the first thing large corporations  do is lay off workers. Small businesses cut everything else, even owners pay, before laying off workers. how many ceo's have cut their pay?
Dec 15, 2011 4:46PM

It would be interesting to see how these over paid empty suits "achieved the Dream".  Four of the ten were retired or fired.  For the fired ones, I guess they "achieved the Dream" by performing poorly enough to get canned.  Companies give them the big severance package because they won't fire them for cause, it might make the company look bad.


Salaries like these are possible because there are no "union thugs" to make a company divide up their pie equitably.  It's amazing that in this country there are people who are fine with CEO's getting paid like this, but will complain about a union worker who doesn't pay part of his medical premiums.


This story is about the redistribution of wealth that has been going on for years.  The millions CEO's are getting are coming out of working people's pockets.

Dec 15, 2011 4:25PM

Stop complaining about those who have achieved the Dream and try to attain it for yourself!

People who have standards don't want to be a part of a corrupt system that continually takes advantage of others. So, the solution to you, is to be just as bad?


1) These wages, we're talking about the top 0.00001%. The truly vastly wealthy. They are *rarely* self-made. You imagine some people who simply started a small business themselves and made it. That is such a rare situation in the S&P500.


Almost all small business owners will never be in this club. They won't be allowed because people in the club generally try as hard as possible to not let other people in.


2) The pay is manipulated pay. Generally it is in the form of options. And not just street options the rest of us can by, but in the cases of CEOs special options that give them lots of advantages over people even in the option market.


It's actually leveraged against the market capitalization of the companies. Equity markets are fun. They've essentially taken all productive earnings of companies and selected who they will distribute them to.


3) They've done psychological studies on this. They might not be evil, but CEOs start to believe their own myth with money. They've even done these studies over years and as those peoples wealth grew and they actually change what they percieve.


a) They start to discount the opportunities that may have been *given* to them, time when they simply got lucky, times when other people helped them. They start to believe "I did this all on my own"

b) they start to develop an attitude that other people (many of whom are working very hard) are simply lazy

c) They have less empathy for others situations in general


4) Simple point.


*Human beings are self interested* *In today's world, wealth is the ultimate power* -combine those two ideas. *Of course* CEOs are manipulating the situation in their own interest, and that can and does come at the expense of others. Quit denying it.


You really think an Apple is sitting around and going, "you know, let's play fair with our small busineess competitors or new innovators, let's not use our cash to stop them, courts to harrass them, our banking connections to deny them, etc, etc, etc"? NAIVE.

Dec 15, 2011 6:06PM
It's amazing that in this country there are people who are fine with CEO's getting paid like this, but will complain about a union worker who doesn't pay part of his medical premiums

Oh, it was hilarious in 2008/2009 to hear about how the US Gov/Citizens couldn't put restrictions on banks wages/perks for bailing them out and the....


2010, we got to hear how "fat cat" teachers were hamming it up off the public taxes. I mean, even some administrators making 100k+ a YEAR! Geez, why worry about giving people trillions of dollars when we might be paying someone a livable wage.


And about 40-50% were backing up that view of teachers. Just the height of ridiculousness.

.This story is about the redistribution of wealth that has been going on for years.  The millions CEO's are getting are coming out of working people's pockets.
Yep. 40 years now. Federal Reserve and the Stock Market, actively redistributing the productive wealth of workers to a very, very few.
Dec 15, 2011 6:34PM

The only thing that concerns, (pi$$e$ me off) , about CEO's receiving bonus' along with the ones who are connected to companies who received bail out money, is, what is the condition of their companies? I mean, if employees have been layed off, or haven't received a pay raise in over a year, than I think its outragious! If a company experiences such a profit, than why not reward the employees?   

Dec 15, 2011 6:53PM
And they still get a tax-cut break?  Hmmmm
Dec 15, 2011 7:52PM
Over charging medicare? $570 to tie my shoe from one doctor. I told that guy I could tie my own shoe but he insisted then billed medicare $570. The health care system is corrupt and the tax payer is getting screwed while great profits for them.
Dec 15, 2011 5:44PM
No wonder we don't make that much on our stock investments.  If everyone sold their stock holdings these pathetic swindlers would probably have to get a real job.  If pay was based on performance, most of them would be lucky to make 10 dollars an hour.
Dec 15, 2011 9:56PM

Who do you think these guys get this pay?  They have their buddies on their board and their buddies have them on their board.  Yes they work for multiply companies.  Then they vote for their own raises.  The stock holders have no say in it.  The Mutual fund promotes this as they look for the last quarter return not the future return.  It used to be that executives were rewarded for good performance.  Now they are rewarded for good number.  Forget about tomorrow but look at the last quarter.  The executive lay off productive employees and prevented necessary purchases, but the numbers look good on paper so their bonus are high.  The next quarter the plant is screwed but the executive has moved onto a new position or waves a new flag but pushes the blame off onto the small guy.


As a lifelong Republican I find it hard to continue to vote this way.  The person making $500,000 plus a year does NOT produce any jobs, they line their pockets.  Jobs are produce by Corporations with people with values at the helm.

Dec 15, 2011 6:02PM
When things get tough the first thing large corporations  do is lay off workers. Small businesses cut everything else, even owners pay, before laying off workers. how many ceo's have cut their pay?

Which is of course because most of the boards of these companies are not paid by majority a wage salary. They are paid by the stock market and options they have in these companies.


The vast majority of small companies generally aren't publicly listed and even privately owned ones can and do take losses to income because the people running the companies are being paid wages. Not stock.


There's no such thing as accepting losses in Mega Corporations for the people running them. They refuse to. And they do anything and everything even if the practices are actually damaging to the company. See Financial Sector 2000-2008 for reference. Those idiots had no idea what there companies were even doing. And the companies wrecked themselves all in the name of driving stock price.

Dec 15, 2011 5:51PM
So, are you implying that companies such as Apple should share all of its intellectual property rights with every relevant small business in an effort to 'play fair'?

Did I say anything of that sort? NOOOOOOO.


The point is simple. Even if you have a successful product, and pursue it as a small company. Larger players will do vastly unethical things to stop you at every turn. So much so, that even hard workers (who according to some are apparently lazy) will fail and be shut out.


Who knows who they have in their back pocket, but don't be naive enough to pretend these things don't happen. Mega companies can get the government to lean certain ways, they have the armies of lawyers who can shut down other companies by just flooding the legal system (or getting the government to cut off the legal system from smaller players), even use connections to shut down capital to other companies.


Some of these things may just be unethical, but some are actually quite illegal. But more to the point, the "notion" that everyone who isn't successful just isn't trying is nonsense. People get squashed by mega companies all the time.

You make statements alluding to such nonsense and yet have the audacity to call my thoughts 'naive'?

It wasn't alluding to anything like that at all. You're making up your own implications that I never alluded.


There's nothing in my statement that implies any company should give proprietary information to other companies. What I imply is that they use the abilities of wealth, influence in government, manipulation of courts, and powerful connection to place unfair and at times even illegal durress on small companies.


So your entire thesis that people who aren't getting mega wealthy simply aren't trying is nonsense because there are many trying very hard, the system is used against them often times to crush them.


This doesn't even get into the personal level. Which means the battle of politics at such mega companies. Why is a company like GE paying the CEO mega millions while demanding the innovative minds that keep it running get by on maybe 100k for PHD engineers. Because they have the power to do it and keep it that way.


Go ahead and tell me how that PHD Engineer is so lazy making his 100k and not being able to get into the CEO seat.


Dec 15, 2011 5:58PM
If you think they are over paid then start your own company.  If you can't do it then you don't have the skills.  How does that make the people that do overpaid.



Only 1 person on that list started the company.


And if you go across the universe of Mega Companies and Mega paid CEOs, it's not even 1/10 that started the company. The % is very low.


Terrible reasoning. Again, this is not talking about the small business hard working person. Rarely do any of them even make 150 million in a lifetime of hard work. Let alone (1) *Single* year.


People continually lump these together and it's terrible thinking. Mega Companies and Mega CEOs are decidedly against small business owners. In fact, they do everything in their power both unethical and even illegal to stop any small business from rising up to the same level. Why do small business owners continually defend mega companies that are so against them?

Dec 15, 2011 9:14PM
The problem is the teapublican's will not bite the hand that feeds them.They have held hostage anything that benefits the middle class and working poor and fought tooth and nail against anything that would bring a halt or at least curtail these criminals. The perfect example is putting the stipulation of the oil sand pipeline with the extension of the payroll tax holiday. Once again they are taking care of the oil and gas companies at the expense of the middle class and working poor of this country. 
Jan 13, 2012 6:12PM
Those crooks are reaping the rewards from stacking boards of directors with other ceo's and serial board members. These robbers wouldn't know the difference between a fiduciary responsibility and a tax break... they aren't FOR either. The idea that those people make that kind of money, when most of their companies are losing money AND shedding employees is worse than appalling. Only in America!!!!
Jan 11, 2012 1:02PM
Dec 15, 2011 9:07PM
It was said somewhere that it would be easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven. The way some of these guys act and the greed they swim in I'm becoming a believer in that statement. I think some of them have already lost their soul.
 We cannot limit or set what anyone should be paid for anything . This is communistic . But things need to change when we see athletes getting paid 250 million to play kid games than beating people up or getting caught drug dealing . Driving ticket prices to $100 and way over to pay their ridiculous salary . And musicians and actors haa what do they contribute to society , sorry Lindsey Lohan comes to mind . Do cocaine , drive drunk and the industry worships her skank . What about CEO's that let companies go bankrupt than say we don't know where your IRA retirement money went but we did get our 15 million dollar paycheck this year .   There are no easy answers . No hero FBI agent looking to take down the crooks . You are either one of them , someone without integrity or your poor .  Welcome to the future .
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