6 CEOs Who Received a Pay Raise, And Deserved It

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As the effects of the financial crisis that started in 2008 continue to recede and stocks soar to all-time highs, compensation for top executives has climbed to record levels. According to an Associated Press study, average levels for CEO pay have never been higher, and in 2013, the median pay level jumped above $10,000,000. The average pay figure now sits at $10.5 million, a full 8.8 percent above 2012′s number of $9.6 million.

The study encompasses companies from all sorts of businesses and industries. There was unsurprising growth in compensation levels for companies that are rocketing up the revenue charts, such as natural gas companies and big media groups. Many CEOs had to bare the brunt of angry shareholders as profits slid in the face of increasing competition or public relations disasters. Still, as pay levels fluctuated from company to company, the overall levels in executive compensation continues to creep higher and higher.

The world of executive pay is complicated, and compensation packages vary wildly from one company and industry to another. Some packages are mostly merit and performance-based, while others are loaded with bonus incentives. Regardless of the structure, there are many CEOs who have taken it upon themselves to set their respective companies apart from the herd, and have really earned the raises they received during the 2013 year.

Read on to see the six CEOs who deserved their pay raise in 2013, according to data from the Associated Press and research firm Equilar.

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1. Reed Hastings — Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX)

Reed Hastings, the chief executive at Netflix, has had his hands very full over the past several years. Despite numerous setbacks, including public relations debacles, net neutrality issues, and industry-specific hardships, Hastings has been able to keep Netflix on-course. Revenues have continued to climb, leaving shareholders happy, and Netflix’s customers have come to appreciate the company not only for a great product that they offer, but for standing up to congress and internet service providers in the face of net neutrality and internet-censorship issues, such as SOPA and PIPA.

According to the Associated Press report, Hastings earned $7,732,857 in 2013, which represented a 39 percent increase overall from 2012. That increase has been well-earned on Hastings’s part, as he saw over additions of original Netflix content, including television shows like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and led the way in bringing the company’s service to new platforms like smartphones. Netflix stock even quadrupled in 2013, according to Yahoo! Finance. With plenty of progress behind him, it’s safe to say Hastings has done enough to justify his pay raise.

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2. Margaret C. Whitman — Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

Hewlett-Packard has really stepped up their efforts to become a leader in the computing industry, and CEO Margaret C. Whitman has been helping the company along since being named CEO in 2011. The Associated Press report shows Whitman was on the recipient of a 15 percent pay raise in 2013, putting her compensation at an impressive $17,643,243 annually. Besides keeping HP steady with growth and revenues, Whitman has also put a lot of effort into keeping the company’s pledges to improving the planet and society.

HP has led the charge in the industry to do away with conflict minerals in its products, aggressively lobbying for legislation to forbid the use of materials sourced from troubled regions. HP has also been making a big push in sustainability reforms, promoting new packaging initiatives and increasing workflow efficiency. Behind Whitman’s leadership, HP has been, and continues to be, a major player in pushing for positive business reforms. Although stock performance wasn’t the best in 2013, HP is still making headway in changing the business world.


3. Stephen Kaufer – TripAdvisor (NYSE:TRIP)

TripAdvisor is a website that almost everyone uses from time to time, but doesn’t give much thought to otherwise. It has become one of the most popular destinations on the web, and has generated enormous traffic from an ever-growing user base. The man behind the wheel is Stephen Kaufer, who saw his annual compensation grow a mind-blowing 510 percent from 2012 to 2013, and now sits with a yearly pay of $39,014,227 according to the AP‘s data.

What has earned Kaufer such a big pay day? Since going public in 2011, major pushes have been made to increase company revenues and traffic leading to good results. Just last year the company acquired six other smaller startups to bolster and expand its reach. The site’s traffic has reached great heights, with roughly 74 million unique visitors per month according to Forbes. Very strong stock growth over the 2013 year also helped. With Kaufer’s guidance and a strong track record of growth over the past few years, Kaufer’s big-time pay raise seems to be right on target with TripAdvisor’s rapid expansion.


4. David Cote — Honeywell International (NYSE:HON)

If there is one company set for explosive growth in coming years, it’s Honeywell International. Many people are familiar with the Honeywell name, but what exactly do they do? That can be a hard question to answer, as the company has its hands in all kinds of things. From consumer products to aerospace systems, Honeywell can literally be found all over the place. And it’s because of the company’s diverse set of specialties that has made them so profitable.

CEO David Cote saw his pay shoot up by 55 percent in 2013 to just under $26,000,000 annually. With Cote in control, Honeywell is due to set double-digit earnings growth all the way through 2018, and is set to take on $10 billion-worth of new acquisitions in coming years, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company has also detailed its expansion plans to investors, laying out what looks to be a very profitable time in the coming years. The company’s stock has remained strong and seen a good amount of growth over the past year and a half. Cote certainly has earned his raise with numbers like these, and as Honeywell continues to expand, his compensation should expect to do the same.


5. Alan Mulally — Ford (NYSE:F)

Few companies have a storied past as much as auto maker Ford. Having been around for more than a century now, Ford has literally changed the face of the planet over the decades, and has spanned generations with its powerful pickup trucks and more recent economical car lineup. CEO Alan Mulally took the reins of the company in 2006, shortly before the big financial crisis hit, sending car sales into the cellar along with it. Ford was able to pick itself out of the wreckage, and even stay out of bankruptcy in stark contrast to its American counterpart, General Motors (NYSE:GM).

Mulally is actually in the process of stepping down from his role as Ford’s chief, but his time in charge is credited at keeping the company afloat. During 2013, he saw his pay increase by 11 percent to $23,204,534, and deservedly so. As Ford has been able to innovate and produce new hit vehicles like the Fusion, and maintain its best-selling F-150 pickup truck, other companies have collapsed alongside them. Ford’s stock has had some ups and downs over the past year, but generally has stayed on a positive trend. Mulally has Ford set up for success in the coming years and has earned his paycheck over the past eight years the hard way.

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6. Walter Robb IV — Whole Foods (NYSE:WFM)

Organic and high-end grocery retailer Whole Foods has come of age over the past decade or so, and in its wake has changed the food industry for the better. CEO Walter Robb IV has been in the Whole Foods driver’s seat since 2010, and has been rewarded for guiding the company’s growth during that time. In 2013, Robb received a 155 percent raise, putting his annual income at $3,229,338 according to the AP‘s data. A strong 2013 for the company’s stock has also helped his case. While it still lags well behind the pay scale of other top executives, it’s quite impressive for a company that, a couple of decades ago, many thought would never strike it big.

Thanks to increased sales over the years and a priority on the public’s part in healthier and more conscious eating, Whole Foods has been able to take on even the big grocery retailers. The Denver Business Journal gives Robb a nod as the company has continued to grow, giving credit as it says the company’s growth has been based on good decision-making and adept employees. While growth has slowed as of late due to increased competition and adaption by other grocery chains, Whole Foods looks set for the time being behind an innovative and unique approach to selling food.