Barra was appointed CEO of GM in December, and the company's latest earnings report was for the last quarter under her predecessor, Dan Akerson. It wasn't a great one.
Last week, the company announced it earned $913 million in the fourth quarter, or 67 cents per share, excluding some charges, on $40.5 billion in revenue. That disappointed analysts who were expecting earnings of 88 cents per share.
Full-year profit fell 22% to $3.8 billion, but because U.S. operations earned $7.5 billion in operating profit, the company wrote profit-sharing checks of $7,500 for each of its union employees, up from $6,750 a year earlier.
Barra will get full credit if there is a turnaround in Europe and South America, where results were poor, and if forward momentum in the U.S. can continue. Barra also knows the spotlight will be on her because of her sex, and she got a taste of that when her own pay packet was announced.
Barra is getting $4.4 million in cash and short-term stock incentives this year. That's less than the $9 million predecessor Dan Akerson took in under the government's salary restrictions, but Barra's also getting $10 million in long-term compensation, stock tied to performance, which should boost her pay to $14.4 million, 60% higher than what Akerson was getting.
Because Barra is female, some reporters asked if she is being paid adequately. If she were male, the question might be whether she is getting too much -- $14.4 million per year is a lot for an unproven CEO.