Chief executives at large U.S. companies took home hefty increases in bonuses and saw the value of their equity-based pay soar last year on strong corporate profits, according to a study released Thursday.

The CEOs saw annual bonuses increase 13 percent and the value of their equity-based compensation holdings grow nearly 50 percent last year, according to a study by financial management consultants Watson Wyatt Worldwide Inc.

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"Corporate America enjoyed a banner financial year in 2006," said Steve Putten, a consultant at Watson Wyatt. "CEO pay moved in step with corporate earnings and stock prices, reflecting the trend toward performance-based compensation."

The analysis is based on proxy statements of 92 large companies whose CEOs remained in their positions in 2005 and 2006.

Median annual bonuses for chief executives increased to $2.2 million last year. At the same companies, the median growth in earnings per share was 14 percent.

The median value of CEOs' equity compensation, which includes in-the-money stock options and restricted stock awards, increased to $30.2 million last year.

Base salaries grew 4 percent to a median $1.1 million, according to the study.

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