Newcomer Is No. 1; Apple's Jobs Falls to 99

May 31, 2005|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Talk about executive shuffles.

Apple Computer Inc. boss Steve Jobs, who topped the Los Angeles Times' executive pay survey last year, is next to last on the new list after his compensation plunged from $74.8 million to just $1.

That's barely enough to download one song on an iPod. But according to federal filings, Jobs still owns 10 million shares of the Cupertino, Calif., computer and gadget maker -- worth about $406 million at Friday's market close -- so he probably won't be singing "Poor, Poor Pitiful Me" anytime soon.

The Apple co-founder was No. 1 in last year's survey thanks to restricted stock grants he got in 2003 through what the company's board labeled "a new retention and incentive plan."

Despite Apple's banner year in 2004 -- when its share price more than tripled -- Jobs did not get any additional stock grants. A company spokesman declined to comment, but Apple tends to dole out such stock grants only occasionally. The 2003 grant was the first for Jobs in five years.

The Times annual survey, conducted by Aon Consulting's EComp Data Services, examines pay packages at California's 100 largest public companies, then ranks the executives based on what they reaped in the latest fiscal year.

The latest leading breadwinner, Terry Semel of Yahoo Inc., wasn't on last year's list because the Web portal's revenue wasn't sufficient to qualify it as one of the biggest companies. But the Sunnyvale firm's sales more than doubled in 2004, vaulting its CEO and his $144.9-million pay package to the head of the class.

Among other newcomers to the list:

* Charles G. "Chase" Carey, new boss at El Segundo satellite TV service DirecTV Group Inc., scored $33.5 million last year (the majority in restricted stock) to burst into the top 10. DirecTV didn't make last year's list because it was a unit of General Motors Corp. until December 2003, when it was split off and News Corp. bought a 34% slice to become the largest shareholder.

Carey, a former executive at News Corp., was rewarded for brisk subscriber growth as DirecTV focused on its key direct-to-home business, shedding stakes in PanAmSat, Hughes Software Systems and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.

DirecTV, formerly known as Hughes Electronics Corp., is the No. 1 satellite TV provider with more than 14 million subscribers. But analysts note that its revenue growth -- fueled by programming, equipment discounts and other promotions -- has come at a cost. Last year, DirecTV's net loss widened to $1.41 a share from 26 cents the year before.

* Eli Harari, head of Sunnyvale's SanDisk Corp., joined the list at No. 12 as the company's sales and profit both surged more than 40%. Harari, who founded SanDisk in 1988 after working at Intel Corp. and elsewhere, earned $20.2 million last year, mostly from the estimated value of stock options.

SanDisk, which went public in 1995, is the world's leading maker of flash memory cards for storing digital music and images on computers and other devices. The digital photo revolution has fueled much of the company's recent growth.

An Israeli emigrant, the 60-year-old Harari has come a long way since joining Hughes Aircraft Co. in Newport Beach in 1973, fresh from Princeton University's doctoral program.

"I was making $18,000 a year, scratching my head about what was I going to do with all this money," he said in an interview.

But Harari, who today has most of his net worth in SanDisk stock, downplayed the importance of wealth.

"You can't eat more than one steak a day," he said.

* William H. Lyon commanded $4.8 million in salary and bonuses as CEO of Newport Beach developer William Lyon Homes Inc. The company was added to the list after its sales and profit more than doubled last year. Lyon, No. 60, is a retired Air Force major general battling a small army of disgruntled shareholders.

Lyon, whose family controls three-quarters of the company's stock, touched off a spate of investor lawsuits in April when he proposed taking the firm private by buying out minority stakeholders for $82 a share. The pending deal would be partly financed with the company's cash.

In February, Lyon and President Wade H. Cable were saluted with $10.2-million bonuses in honor of the firm's numbers last year.



Cashing in options

Stock options are rights to buy shares at a set price in the future and are a major factor in executive compensation. Here's a look at the CEOs of California's largest companies who earned the most on stock options last year.

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