The companies in the S&P 500 Consumer Staples category have posted fairly impressive return on equity figures -- and handed out fairly meaty pay packages to their chieftains, as today's ROE v. Paid: Consumer Staples chart shows.

Lots of media outlets have been measuring executive pay against the company's stock market returns over the past year. Since the S&P 500 cratered 23.4% in 2002 and took down lots of individual companies with it, we felt a fairer measure of executive performance would be a company's average return on equity over five years. Looking at return on equity, or ROE -- derived by dividing common stock equity into net income before dividends -- is one of the easiest and best ways for investors to determine how effectively their money is being employed. (For more on our series, please read this column .)

The consumer staples category -- which includes companies across the food chain, from Archer Daniels Midland ( ADM) to Coca-Cola ( KO), as well as big consumer-goods companies such as Procter & Gamble ( PG) -- performed well on the ROE side.

Stalwarts such as Colgate-Palmolive ( CL) and Kellogg ( K) delivered stellar ROE numbers, among the highest in the S&P 500.

The group also counted among its ranks some of the best-paid chief executives, such as Patrick Stokes of Anheuser-Busch ( BUD), whose salary, bonus and options totaled $47.1 million in 2002, and PepsiCo's ( PEP) Steven Reinemund, whose compensation ran to $29 million.

Did the chiefs deserve the pay they brought home? Click here to determine for yourself.


Staples Hold It Together
From a return-on-equity standpoint, the consumer staples segment of the S&P 500 has held up better than other sectors. Colgate-Palmolive's impressive ROE performance shows why media-averse honcho Reuben Mark wins high marks. When 2002 figures weren't available, previous-year figures were used, as indicated by (2001) in the compensation column.
Company (Ticker Symbol) 5-yr ROE 1-yr ROE Chief Executive Compensation* Rank in 500 Richest CEOs in 2002 Stock Return in 2002
Colgate-Palmolive (CL) 160.1% 475.73% Reuben Mark $11,400,857 #100-200 (2001) -9.2%
Sara Lee (SLE) 89.6 82.12 C. McMillan $17,304,615
Top 100
1.3
Kellogg (K) 59.4 81.61 Carlos Gutierrez $8,512,204
#200-300
13.9


*Compensation figures were not available from eComp, so Yahoo! figures were used.
Source: TheStreet.com, Bloomberg, eComp Online, Yahoo!

Click here to see entire table.

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