Japanese companies have never been known for their shareholder friendliness. In the past year, companies across many industries have gone a long way in reinforcing the stigma by enacting various poison pills and provisions that entrench management teams and discourage any unwelcome (read: often foreign) acquisition attempts.

This makes last night's announcement that the CEO and board of directors at Motley Fool Global Gains selection Nissan (NASDAQ:NSANY) are not receiving bonuses for last year's performance all the more important and impressive.

Nissan did miss its own targets last year, but all too often companies fall back on the excuse that the industry or economy was too tough, and that's why targets were missed. It's true that things in the auto industry became more difficult last year than they had been in recent years. Only Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) were able to overcome the headwinds, but both are expecting much slower growth this year. Nissan's management deserves a little credit for not taking the easy way out here.

A worse practice that some companies use is to set the bar so low as to guarantee a part of the bonus regardless of performance. This was just one of the pieces in the compensation package of former Home Depot (NYSE:HD) CEO Robert Nardelli that raised the ire of shareholders. Kind of makes you wonder what the point is in calling it a bonus anyway.

Nissan is only nearing the end of its first quarter, but the company said it still expects to hit its high level goals for 2007. Nissan's shares aren't loved by the market right now, but the negative view won't last if the company continues to execute its plan and role out new models on a regular schedule.

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Nathan Parmelee had no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy speaks five languages.