It's stuff like this that makes me want to switch from Coca-Cola
I mean the shares themselves. As a shareholder in Coca-Cola, it irritates me personally to see President and COO Steven J. Heyer receiving an overly generous severance payout of $23 million. Mr. Heyer will reportedly get $8 million in cash. The other $15 million will be made up of stock options.
We all know that executives in public corporations traditionally receive huge monies when they exit, stage left -- remember the golden parachute Michael Ovitz landed with when he and Michael Eisner decided it was time for the former superagent to depart from Disney
But from the AP report I read concerning Mr. Heyer's compensation, there seems to be something illogical going on here. For example, the head of Coke North America, Jeff Dunn, received $4 million when he left following two decades of service with the company. And Coke's previous COO, Jack Stahl, who had been with the company for 20 years when he left in 2001 (the year Mr. Heyer joined up), took home between $20 million and $25 million. When you compare these payouts with the length of time served to earn them, this latest compensation bonanza seems bizarre.
Personally, I don't see why such an enormous amount of value needs to be transferred from my stockholder's equity into an executive's pockets. Yes, I understand they need to be paid well, and I fully comprehend that everything is relative... after all, we're talking about a company that takes in a lot of free cash. Sure, Coke has millions at its disposal. But quite frankly, I'm greedy for every dollar. And although this would be a philosophical debate for another time and place, I have to be honest: I'm just not sure there is a strong correlation between King-Midas employment contracts and increases of shareholder value.
I'm not selling out of Coke; I read the Fool, I know about the power that dividends possess, and I'm happy with Coke's dividend increases as of late. But there are other good dividend plays out there, certainly, such as Procter & Gamble
Then again, we all know that any company has the potential to make a shareholder angry over an employment contract. No matter where you turn, someone is probably taking too much capital from a business concern. I just hope Coke continues to serve up increases in my payout.
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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Coca-Cola and Disney.