Fat Cats and Your Investments

by Terry Keenan

It's annual meeting season on Wall Street FOX Fans.  That time of year when companies must disclose their dirty laundry — including all sorts of fine-print on executive pay.  And despite 3 years of shrinking stock prices and CEO perp-walks the executive gravy train is cruising right a long, and the fat cats are as fat as ever — even when their company is a real dog.   
Take AMR: With the company on the brink of bankruptcy, AMR CEO Donald Carty disclosed last week that he and other top execs were awarded lucrative "retention" to stay onboard the embattled carrier for the next 20 months.  For Carty, the bonus would top $1.6 million.  Are there so many executive search firms knocking at his door?  Sure seems unlikely.

Under pressure, the AMR execs gave back those bonuses.  But, that's just one example of post-bubble greed. There are plenty more.

According to the latest numbers for 2002, the median salaries at the largest U.S. corporations rose 6 percent last year while CASH BONUSES soared by 21 percent. This, in a year when the S&P500 declined by 22 percent. In the 3rd year of a plunging stock market you have to wonder what performance all these bonuses were rewarding?

Still, most mutual fund and pension fund managers have stayed mum on the subject.  In fact, of the 320 pay proposals on shareholder ballots this year so far only 2 have won the approval of shareholders.  Until the fat cats are really held accountable...investors won't get the management they deserve.

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