Analysis: How much CEOs and typical employees make at Charlotte’s biggest public companies

Analysis: How much CEOs and typical employees make at Charlotte’s biggest public companies
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Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan is the highest paid CEO in Charlotte, according to an analysis of publicly traded companies in the region.

In 2019, Moynihan made just over $26 million as the head of Bank of America, the second-biggest bank in the country by assets.

We recently analyzed the compensation of the executives who lead the 20 biggest publicly traded companies in the Charlotte metropolitan area, as well as what typical employees make. It’s important to note that the pay figures here are from 2019; they don’t reflect 2020 performance or the current economic situation. But next year’s CEO pay analysis could (more on that below).

The word “compensation” here is also notable, since it includes more than just someone’s salary. For Moynihan, who actually lives in Boston, nearly 95 percent of his compensation is in the form of stock awards, which link to the company’s financial performance. His base salary, $1.5 million, was the same as it was in 2018.

Because the board awarded him with even more perks this year, Moynihan’s total pay for last year was actually a little higher, at $26.5 million.

The board did that for a number of reasons. For one, Bank of America returned more than $34 billion to shareholders, a 34 percent increase from 2018. Additionally, the bank’s stock price improved 42 percent in 2019.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan (Courtesy: Bank of America)

The next highest-paid CEO in the Charlotte area was Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk, who made $20.5 million in 2019.

Honeywell is the tech manufacturing company that moved its headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte last year.

Next up after Adamczyk was Nucor CEO John Ferriola, who made $19.1 million in 2019. Ferriola retired on December 31, and the company’s former COO, Leon Topalian, took over as CEO on January 1.

The figures we analyzed come from summary compensation tables within proxy filings that local companies reported to the Securities Exchange Commission, mostly all this spring. The compensation is for those who lead the companies as of December 31, 2019. (Note: The Agenda opted to hold this story from its original run date in deference to coronavirus news.)

At the end of this story is a listed-out breakdown of what the area’s top executives make. Here is a chart view:

According to the analysis of local companies, the median compensation for a CEO of a publicly traded company in Charlotte is about $9.1 million.

And according to a recent AP analysis, the median CEO pay at the biggest U.S. companies in 2019 was $12.3 million.

That represents a rise of 4.1 percent over the previous year.

But the coronavirus pandemic could slow down the growth of CEO pay this year. Stock market turmoil, plus uncertainty in the global economy, could make it harder for chief executives to meet performance targets, the AP notes.

Additionally as a result of the pandemic, many CEOs nationwide have already said they are trimming part of their compensation this year.

That’s the case in Charlotte, where a few companies have said that top executives are taking pay cuts because of the pandemic.

Door and window maker Jeld-Wen, for instance, reported in early April that the company’s executive officers agreed to a 25 percent pay cut of their base salaries until June 30 because of the pandemic.

Also in early May, Albemarle Corp. said it is reducing its executives’ base salaries by 20 percent, effective May 11 through the rest of the year. This applies to the salary of new CEO J. Kent Masters, who took the helm at the company in April. He replaced Luther Kissam, who retired in June for health reasons.

The temporary pay cuts, Albemarle said, aim “to reduce costs and focus on short-term cash management during the current period of uncertainty resulting from the economic downturn in connection with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

A few years ago, the SEC adopted a rule requiring companies to disclose the ratio between the CEO’s pay and that of the company’s median employee.

Part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the rule aims to regulate executive pay, as it underscores the disparity between the compensation of regular front-line workers and the chief executive.

The ratio part of the rule was what dominated headlines when the rule took effect, but what’s more revealing is the median employee pay. Previously, companies didn’t have to disclose that.

Among Charlotte-area companies, the highest median employee pay in 2019 was $150,678 at Brighthouse Financial, the financial services company that MetLife spun off in 2017. One big reason for this is that Brighthouse’s local workforce comprises highly skilled jobs like analytics engineers, portfolio managers, and data analysts. In a statement, a company spokesman said Brighthouse offers competitive compensation that rewards individual and company performance.

“We aim to provide a compensation package that enables Brighthouse Financial to attract, motivate and retain a high-performing, diverse employee population,” the statement read.

The company with the second highest median pay, at $120,578, was Premier Inc., the health care services company headed by one of the area’s sole female CEOs, Susan Devore. 

Cato had the lowest median employee pay, $10,382. That’s because when calculating median pay, the company took into account part-time employees, such as store clerks and cashiers.  

According to the AP’s analysis, it would take 169 years, or roughly two lifetimes, for the average employee at most S&P 500 companies to make what their CEO did.

Running a publicly traded company comes with perks aside from just handsome compensation.

Some companies provide perks like personal use of the corporate airplane.

For instance, at LendingTree, personal use of the company jet costs totaled $412,723 for CEO Doug Lebda.

Lowe’s caps the spending for the CEO’s personal usage of the corporate aircraft at $200,000 per year. Last year, Marvin Ellison’s personal use of the plane accounted for $36,150.

Honeywell requires its CEO to use the company jet for both business and personal use for “security reasons.” Last year, the company spent $27,200 for “personal residential security provided to protect” CEO Darius Adamczyk.

Nucor, on the other hand, says it takes an “egalitarian approach” to providing benefits to its employees. Executive officers don’t receive perks like company cars, country club memberships, or personal use of the corporate jet.

Truist, the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, also doesn’t provide personal club memberships, corporate housing, or car allowances, but it does allow for “limited personal use” of the corporate jet.

Last year, Duke Energy spent $7,697 on various expenses for CEO Lynn Good, including an airline club membership, a partial personal cell phone reimbursement, and “occasional personal use of tickets to athletic and cultural events.”

The latest Fortune 500 list includes eight in the Charlotte metro area: Bank of America (25) Lowe’s (44), Honeywell (92), Duke Energy (123), Nucor (139), Truist (217), Sonic Automotive (301), and Brighthouse Financial (457). CommScope, headquartered in nearby Hickory debuted on list at No. 381.

Looking this this list and beyond, at the area’s 20 publicly traded companies with the highest CEO compensation, two are women, Devore and Good, and one CEO is Black, Marvin Ellison.

Here’s the breakdown of Charlotte-area CEO pay:

Brian Moynihan (Bank of America) — $26 million
Base salary: $1.5 million
Stock: $23.6 million
Change in pension value: $632,250
Perks: $331,858

Darius Adamczyk (Honeywell) — $20.5 million
Base salary: $1.6 million
Stock: $8.61 million
Options: $4.64 million
Bonus: $4.07 million
Change in pension value: $748,107
Perks: $864,082

John Ferriola (Nucor) — $19.1 million
Base salary: $1.45 million
Stock: $8.50 million
Options: $1.75 million
Bonus: $3.91 million
Change in pension value:
Perks: $3.49 million

Lynn Good (Duke Energy) — $15 million
Base salary: $1.38 million
Stock: $10.12 million
Bonus: $2.79 million
Change in pension value: $355,908
Perks: $373,760

Marvin Edwards (CommScope) — $14 million
Base salary: $1.1 million
Options: $12.09 million
Bonus: $517,110
Change in pension value: $54,686
Perks: $231,526

Frank Harrison (Coca-Cola Consolidated) — $11.7 million
Base salary: $1.15 million
Bonus: $8.71 million
Change in pension value: $402,382
Perks: $1.45 million

Marvin Ellison (Lowe’s) — $11.6 million
Base salary: $1.45 million
Stock: $6.41 million
Options: $2.07 million
Bonus: $1.26 million
Perks: $427,366

Kelly King (Truist) — $11.5 million
Base salary: $1.12 million
Stock: $3.4 million
Bonus: $4.78 million
Change in pension value: $1.81 million
Perks: $376,998

Donald Casey (Dentsply Sirona) — $11.4 million
Base salary: $925,000
Stock: $8.22 million
Options: $1 million
Bonus: $1.1 million
Perks: $108,225

David Adams (Curtiss-Wright) — $9.2 million
Base salary: $995,192
Stock: $2.18 million
Bonus: $3.14 million
Change in pension value: $2.83 million
Perks: $39,775

Doug Lebda (LendingTree) — $9 million
Base salary: $750,000
Options: $7.47 million
Bonus: $375,000
Perks: $423,586

Ted Doheny (Sealed Air) — $9 million
Base salary: $1.17 million
Stock: $7.78 million
Perks: $28,000

Luther Kissam (Albemarle) — $8.5 million
Base salary: $1 million
Stock: $3.7 million
Options: $1.13 million
Bonus: $751,991
Change in pension value: $1.70 million
Perks: $244,754

Eric Steigerwalt (Brighthouse Financial) — $8.5M
Base salary: $896,538
Stock: $4.50 million
Bonus: $2.78 million
Perks: $312,913

Susan Devore (Premier) — $7.7 million
Base salary: $1.02 million
Stock: $5.13 million
Bonus: $1.45 million
Perks: $91,960

Gene Lowe (SPX) — $7.6 million
Base salary: $877,679
Stock: $3.46 million
Options: $1.03 million
Bonus: $2.18 million
Perks: $61,881

John Williams (Domtar) — $6.8 million
Base salary: $1.21 million
Stock: $4.36 million
Bonus: $204,643
Perks: $1.06 million

Gary Michel (Jeld-Wen) — $5.5 million
Base salary: $866,539
Stock: $3.05 million
Options: $886,870
Bonus: $654,500
Perks: $40,853

John Cato (Cato) — $5.3 million
Base salary: $1.30 million
Stock: $1.64 million
Bonus: $1.96 million
Perks: $370,307

Marcus Michael (SPX Flow) — $4.9 million
Base salary: $914,589
Stock: $3.44 million
Bonus: $342,971
Perks: $148,936


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