10 CEOs Who Got Massive Pay Increases in 2014 and Made Money for Shareholders, Too

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The CEOs of large companies who received the biggest pay increases last year also generated strong returns for their shareholders.

The Wall Street Journal published a study on Wednesday examining chief executive compensation among the top 300 companies by revenue. It compares pay against shareholder returns and demonstrates that executive compensation is increasingly correlated to investor results. All 10 CEOs posting the best shareholder returns got pay boosts in 2014, and all but two of the worst performers received pay cuts.

Researchers also identified what WSJ called "anomalous" results. Some boards' measures of success aren't in line with what makes the most money for investors, and long-term commitments (multiyear incentive plans, pensions, etc.) can drive pay higher regardless of annual performance.

The 10 chief executives who got the biggest raises in 2014 made their investors happy. Here's who they are.

Ursula Burns

Xerox (XRX) CEO Ursula Burns got the biggest pay hike of 2014, as her total compensation jumped by 792.9% to $22.2 million.

Her shareholders didn't do bad, either, and enjoyed a 16.2% return on their holdings. The company's adjusted earnings per share increased to $1.07 from $1.04 in 2013.

A Xerox representative pointed out that Burns' pay increase appears more dramatic than it actually was, as the company's 2014 proxy statement reflects a two-year total of long-term stock awards that includes $7.75 million tied to a stock award deferred from 2014. If the awards were reflected as 2013 compensation, Burns' total compensation for 2014 would be $14.5 million and for 2013 $10.2 million. The representative added that the Xerox's compensation disclosure and analysis is thorough and provides detail on the compensation committee's decisions.

Burns joined Xerox as an intern in 1980 and became the company's chief executive in 2009.

Christopher Nassetta

In 2014 -- its first full year since going public in December 2013 -- Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT) returned 17.3% to shareholders. The company's chief executive, Christopher Nassetta, received $9.9 million in compensation, a 337.8% boost from the pay disclosed the year before.

Nassetta joined Hilton Worldwide as president and CEO in 2007 after the hospitality chain was bought by Blackstone Group (BX) for $26 million. Often credited as the man who turned around Hilton, Nassetta helped to steer the company toward its 2013 public offering.

In 2014, Christopher Nassetta earned $1.1 million in base salary. He also received nearly $5 million in stock awards, $1.2 million in option awards and $2.5 million in non-equity compensation. The sizable difference in his 2014 and 2013 pay is largely the result of stock and option awards, which he did not receive in 2013.

In June, Nassetta told CNBC that Hilton Worldwide is considering spinning off its $13 billion in properties into a real estate investment trust.

Hilton Worldwide representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Robert Dutkowsky

Robert Dutkowsky, CEO of technology product distributor Tech Data Corp. (TECD), got a 336.9% compensation boost and brought in a total $7.6 million. His shareholders gained 5.9%.

The majority of Dutkowsky's pay boost came as a result of stock awards, in which he received $4.8 million compared to zero the year before. However, Tech Data's proxy statement indicates that about half of the award corresponds to the previous period. Had that amount been allocated accordingly, Dutkowsky's salary would have been $5.2 million for fiscal 2015 and $4.1 million for fiscal 2014.

Dutkowsky has been CEO of Tech Data since 2006.

Tech Data representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Michael Kasbar

World Fuel Services (INT) returned 9.1% to investors in 2014. The fuel supply company's chief executive, Michael Kasbar, received total compensation of $7.7 million -- a 310.9% jump from the year before.

Kasbar's base salary was $713,542, and he received $5.5 million in stock awards and $1.4 million in non-equity compensation as well as $69,463 in other compensation.

World Fuel Services' proxy statement paints a separate picture of his realizable compensation. It calculates $3.8 million in total, the major difference being only $1.5 million in stock awards.

Michael Kasbar boasts 20-year long career with World Fuel Services. He first joined the company in 1995 as chief executive officer of World Fuel Services Americas Inc., the firm's principal subsidiary engaged in the marine fuel services business. In 2002, he served as chief operating officer and president of World Fuel Services, and he became CEO in 2012. He assumed the role of chairman in 2014.

World Fuel Services representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomas Rutledge

Charter Communications (CHTR) chief executive Thomas Rutledge received $16.1 million in total compensation in 2014, a 259.3% jump from the year prior. His company's investors did well, too, and saw a 21.8% return on their holdings. And both Rutledge and Charter shareholders stand to benefit from the company's proposed merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC) .

Rutledge made just under $2 million in base salary in 2014. He received nearly $1 million in stock awards and around $9 million in option awards as well as $3.8 million in non-equity compensation. Much of his pay boost was the result of a three-year long-term incentive plan enacted in 2011.

On Friday, Charter filed a preliminary proxy statement with the SEC for its proposed merger. Should Charter and Time Warner Cable be successfully combined, Rutledge will be offered the position of CEO and chairman of the new entity.

Charter Communications representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

John Richels

Devon Energy (DVN) president and CEO John Richels announced in December that he will retire in July 2015. In his last full year at the oil and gas company, he earned $21.6 million, an increase of 210.5% from the year before. His shareholders made gains as well, albeit barely, as their holdings returned 0.4%.

Richels joined Devon in 1998 through its acquisition of Canada-based Northstar Energy Corp. He became part of its board of directors in 2007 and was elected president and CEO of the company in 2010.

In 2014, John Richels earned $1.4 million in base salary, $10.0 million in stock awards and $3.1 million in non-equity compensation. His pension change was valued at $6.7 million.

The major difference between Richels' 2014 and 2013 pay was the result of stock awards. The company's proxy statement explains that no stock awards were granted in 2013 due to Devon's decision to modify its annual performance assessment and timeline in 2012.

Richels will be replaced as CEO by Dave Hager, Devon's chief operating officer. He will become vice chairman of the board and will become chairman upon the retirement of Larry Nichols, who currently holds the post, in 2016.

Devon Energy representatives declined to comment.

Wayne Smith

Community Health Systems (CYH) delivered a 37.3% return to shareholders in 2014 and generated a 46.1% gain from the three-year period stretching from 2012 to 2014. The health care company's chief executive, Wayne Smith, earned $26.4 million in 2014 -- a 199.3% jump from 2013.

Smith's salary increased slightly in 2014 to $1.5 million from $1.4 million. He received $4.1 million in non-equity compensation, compared to $2.1 million the year before, and got a nearly $2 million increase in his pension. The major jump in Smith's 2014 compensation was the result of stock awards, of which he received $18.7 million (he got $5.2 million in 2013).

According to the company's proxy statement, 2014 performance-based stock awards were subject to the same criteria used in 2013 and 2012. The document also states that compensation earned by executives is reflective of Community Health Systems' strong performance in 2014, highlighting its acquisition of HMA.

Community Health Systems representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Patricia Woertz

In her last full year as CEO of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) , Patricia Woertz, who stepped down in November, made $17.0 million -- 147.4% more than the year before. Her shareholders returned 22.3% on their ADM investments.

Woertz spent eight years at the helm of the company, one of the largest agricultural processors in the world. She remains on as chairman of its board of directors.

Woertz earned $1.4 million in base pay, $5.0 million in stock awards, $6.0 million in option awards and $3.3 million in non-equity compensation in 2014. The jump in her total compensation between 2014 and 2013, a company representative explained, is the result of a switch-up in its fiscal year.

In 2012, Archer Daniels Midland changed its fiscal year from starting in July to beginning in January and thus created a sort of six-month year in the second half of 2012. Bonuses and variable compensation for 2013 were based on that shorter 2012 six-month period, while compensation for 2014 was calculated on the entire 2013 year.

Michael Fries

Liberty Global (LBTYA) returned 13.3% to investors in 2014. The international cable company's chief executive, Michael Fries, got an enormous payday. He earned $112.2 million in total compensation, a 139.4% increase from the year before. According to WSJ's ranking, he is 2014's top-paid CEO.

In 2014, Fries earned a $1.9 million base salary and received a $5 million bonus. He also received $89.2 million in stock awards, $6.6 million in option awards and $7.8 million in non-equity compensation.

The executive was rewarded significantly for signing a five-year employment agreement that Liberty Global has dubbed the "Fries Agreement," which resulted in the $5 million bonus. It also led to the granting of one million Class A and one million Class B shares, which Liberty called the CEO Performance Award.

"Our compensation plans are structured to heavily weight long-term equity performance, which has averaged 35% of a year over the last five years," a Liberty Global representative told WSJ.

Liberty Global representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon saw his pay increase to $27.7 million in 2014 from $11.8 million in 2013, a 134.9% jump. He also returned 9.9% to the company's investors in 2014 and 36.7% in 2013.

Dimon earned $1.5 million in base pay in 2014. He also received $18.5 million in stock awards and got a $7.4 million bonus.

Despite JPMorgan's strong performance, shareholders appear not to be thrilled with its executives -- nor are its executives entirely happy with them. At the company's annual meeting in May, just 61.4% of shareholders voted to approve the compensation paid to the company's top five executives in 2014, down from the 78% approval received the year before.

At Bernstein Annual Strategic Decisions Conference in New York, Dimon lashed out at investors for following ISS and Glass Lewis, two major proxy firms who encouraged voting against his compensation. "God knows how any of you can place your vote based on ISS or Glass Lewis," he said. "If you do that, you are just irresponsible, I'm sorry. And you probably aren't a very good investor, either."

JPMorgan Chase representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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