Here at The Motley Fool, we believe in putting the interests of shareholders first. That all starts by holding the head of a company -- the CEO -- fully accountable for the company's actions. But, as Foolish colleague Alyce Lomax has pointed out multiple times, there's a widening gap between what some CEOs are being paid and what those same CEOs probably should be getting paid.
Some pundits have called for more pay-for-performance packages, but it's incredibly difficult trying to change pay policies that have deep roots on Wall Street.
Today, I want to highlight one recent CEO pay raise that has me more than raising my eyebrow. This pay increase is a direct example of why these same pundits are calling for pay reform in the first place, and is truly disproportionate with reality.
Ian Read, CEO of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE )
After receiving a "paltry" $17.4 million in 2010, Read's total compensation was boosted to $25 million, which included a $1.5 million salary, a $3.5 million cash bonus, and various stock and option awards. The bonus was actually $900,000 more than his target bonus set earlier in 2011.
Read replaced former Pfizer CEO, Jeffrey Kindler, in December 2010 after Kindler received $24.7 million in his final year. To say the least, shareholders were not pleased with the amount of his pay package. Read's pay package passed with only 56% shareholder approval in 2011, down from nearly 97% approval the year before.
I, for one, wouldn't call a 44% CEO pay increase a savvy move considering Pfizer's cloudy near-term outlook. Lipitor, which accounted for $9.6 billion of Pfizer's $67.4 billion in annual sales, began facing generic competition in December from Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: WPI ) and Ranbaxy International and saw sales plummet 25% for the quarter. Expect Lipitor sales to erode significantly more going forward.
In addition, Pfizer is in the midst of a multiyear cost-cutting campaign instituted in 2005 that includes eliminating a grand total of 55,400 jobs. That's not a misprint -- that's 55,400 jobs gone, eliminated, axed! Pfizer announced the final phase of those jobs cuts recently, which will target 16,300 jobs and save the company a purported $1 billion in 2012. I have to wonder, how out of touch with reality do you have to be to give yourself a 44% raise as you are in the process of eliminating 16,300 jobs?
Then there's Pfizer's pipeline. With 23% of its revenue stream losing patent protection by 2014, one month ago I proclaimed Pfizer to be the worst of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (INDEX: ^DJI ) 30 stocks -- in part because of its lack of innovation. Mylan (NYSE: MYL ) is already producing a generic version of Pfizer's glaucoma treatment, Xalatan, while Dr. Reddy's Laboratories (NYSE: RDY ) began selling generic Geodon this month. Generic competition appears ready to eat Pfizer's revenue for lunch, and Ian Read is giving himself a raise.
For shame, Mr. Read! For shame!
Was Ian Read's pay raise justified? Let me and your fellow Fools know in the comments section below. If you're interested in a medical company that is showing promise, then I suggest you get your copy of our latest special report from the Rule Breakers team. Discover which company they feel is the next rule-breaking multibagger for free!