These 5 CEOs Made Bank on Rising Share Prices in 2011

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According to CNBC’s Money in Motion consultant, Equilar, there were some big stock and stock option packages cashed in by S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) CEOs for 2011.  Large pay packages may come under shareholder scrutiny if shares do not perform well.  In 2008, Chesapeake’s (NYSE:CHK) Aubery McClendon was the highest paid CEO in the S&P 500.  After a brutal fall in Chesapeake’s share price, the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees‘ Retirement System filed a lawsuit challenging McClendon’s pay package, which included $77 million in bonuses in addition to a $12 million historic map sale.

The Equilar report and SEC data revealed that 220 S&P 500 CEOs cashed in stock and stock options in 2011.  The CEOs listed below made the largest net gains in their stock and stock option transactions, the amounts do not include their regular annual salary.  However, these CEOs are likely to come under much less scrutiny because their shareholders have been rewarded greatly with high returns over the years.

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According to the report, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Co-founder and CEO Larry Page netted more than $418 million from selling options in 2011.  Page has a strong incentive to boost the value of Google shares as his annual salary at Google is only $1.  Shares of Google have surged 112 percent in the past three years.  In order to help protect itself from lawsuits with Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Google confirmed on Wednesday it purchased 217 patents from IBM Corp. (NYSE:IBM).

Starbucks’ (NASDAQ:SBUX) CEO and founder Howard Shultz, netted $71.6 million last year.  Shares of the company have gained a whopping 372 percent in the past three years.  With rising commodity prices, Starbucks has been able to pass additional expenses onto customers.  The coffee giant recently announced a 1 percent price hike in the U.S. Northeast and Sunbelt regions.  “These adjustments are the result of balancing the cost of doing business with competitive dynamics in these markets,” Starbucks spokesman Jim Olson told Reuters.  Starbucks previously said it expects rising commodity costs to lower fiscal 2012 earnings by about 21 cents per share.

Shares of Priceline.com Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) have surged 539 percent in just three years.  As a result, CEO Jeffrey Boyd netted himself $67.4 million last year.  Although Priceline has seen a large rally over the years, the company continues to expand its presence.  Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) announced on Tuesday that Priceline will run its new travel site called O.co Travel.  “Our partnership with priceline.com allows us to offer customers an in-depth travel site,” Overstock.com President Jonathan Johnson said in statement.

Rounding out the list of the highest earners are Rupert Murdoch from News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWSA) and Stephen Wilson from CF Industries (NYSE:CF).  Both CEOs netted about $61.7 million from selling stock and stock options in 2011.  In the past three years, shares of News Corp. and CF Industries have gained 108 percent and 193 percent, respectively.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Eric McWhinnie at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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