Option bonus

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Stock options were just a footnote. Now the reverse is true. With astounding speed, stock option grants have come to dominate the pay—and often the wealth—of top executives throughout the United States.

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Michael Eisner exercised 22 million options on Disney stock in alone, netting more option bonus a half-billion dollars. In total, U. It would be difficult to exaggerate how much the options explosion has changed corporate America. But has the change been for the better or for the worse? Certainly, option grants have improved the fortunes of many individual executives, entrepreneurs, software engineers, and investors.

Their long-term impact on business in general remains much less clear, however. Option grants binary options news trading reviews even more controversial for many outside observers. The grants seem to shower ever greater riches on top executives, with little connection to corporate performance.

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They appear to offer great upside rewards with little downside risk. And, according to some very vocal critics, they motivate corporate leaders to pursue short-term moves that provide immediate boosts to stock values rather than build companies that will thrive over the long run.

What You Need to Know About Stock Options

As the use of stock options has begun to expand internationally, such concerns have spread from the United States to the business centers of Europe and Asia. Options do not promote a selfish, near-term perspective on the part of businesspeople. Quite the contrary. Options are the best compensation mechanism we have for getting managers to act in ways that ensure the long-term success of their companies and the well-being of their workers and stockholders.

Stock options are bafflingly complex financial instruments. As a result, companies often end up having option programs that are counterproductive. I have, for example, seen many Silicon Valley companies continue to use their pre-IPO programs—with unfortunate consequences—after option bonus companies have grown and gone public. The Pay-to-Performance Link The main goal in granting stock options is, of course, to tie pay to performance—to ensure that executives profit when their companies prosper and suffer when they flounder.

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Many critics claim that, in practice, option grants have not fulfilled that goal. Executives, they argue, continue to be rewarded as handsomely for failure as for success.

As evidence, they either use anecdotes—examples of poorly performing companies that compensate their top managers extravagantly—or they cite studies indicating that the total pay of executives in charge of high-performing companies is not much different from the pay of those heading poor performers.

The studies are another matter. Virtually all of them share a fatal option bonus they measure only the compensation earned in a given year. How to make quick money fast in executives at a company receive yearly option grants, they begin to amass large amounts of stock and option bonus options.

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When the shifts in value of the overall holdings are taken into account, the link between pay and performance becomes much clearer. By increasing the number of shares executives control, option grants have dramatically strengthened the link between pay and performance.

For both measures, the link between pay and performance has increased nearly tenfold since Tying Pay to Performance Given the complexity of options, though, it is reasonable to ask a simple question: if the goal is option bonus align the incentives of owners and managers, why not just hand out shares of stock?

The answer is that options provide far greater leverage. For a company with an average dividend yield and a stock price that exhibits average volatility, a single stock option is worth only about one-third of the value of a share.

The company can therefore give an executive three times as many options as shares for the same option bonus. In addition to providing leverage, options offer accounting advantages.

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The accounting treatment of options has generated enormous controversy. On the other side are many executives, especially those in small companies, who counter that options are difficult to option bonus properly and that expensing them would discourage their use.

The response of institutional investors to the special treatment of options has been relatively muted. They have not been as critical as one might expect. There are two reasons for this. First, companies are required to list their option expenses in a footnote to the balance sheet, so savvy investors can easily figure option costs into expenses.

Even more important, activist shareholders have been among the most vocal in pushing companies to replace cash pay with options.

In my view, the worst thing about the current accounting rules is not that they option bonus companies to avoid listing options as an expense.

That discourages companies from experimenting with new kinds of plans. As just one example, the accounting rules penalize discounted, indexed options—options with an exercise price that is initially set beneath the current stock price and that varies according to a option bonus or industry-specific stock-market index.

Although indexed options are attractive because option bonus isolate company performance from broad stock-market trends, they are almost nonexistent, in large part because the accounting rules dissuade companies from even considering them. The idea of using leveraged incentives is not new. Most salespeople, for example, are paid a higher commission rate on the revenues they generate above a certain target.

But, if in-season talk can be a little troublesome, the off-season conversations are oftentimes downright mindboggling.

Such plans are more difficult to administer than plans with a single commission rate, but when it comes to compensation, option bonus advantages of leverage often outweigh the disadvantages of complexity. You also have to impose penalties for weak performance. The critics claim options have unlimited upside but no downside.

The implicit assumption is that options have no value when granted and that the recipient thus has nothing to lose. But that assumption is completely false.

NFL 101: Getting a grip on Salaries and Bonuses in the modern NFL

Options do have value. Just look at the financial exchanges, where options on stock are bought and sold for large sums of money every second. Yes, the value of option grants is illiquid and, yes, the eventual payoff is contingent on the future performance of the company. But they have value nonetheless.

And if something has value that can option bonus lost, it has, by definition, downside risk. In fact, options have even greater downside risk than stock. Consider two executives in the same company. One is granted a million dollars worth of stock, and the other is granted a million dollars worth of at-the-money options—options whose exercise price matches the stock price at the option bonus of the grant.

The executive with options, however, has essentially been wiped out. His options are now so far option bonus option bonus that they are nearly worthless. Far from eliminating penalties, options actually amplify them.

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The downside risk has become increasingly evident to executives as their pay packages have come to be dominated by options. Take a look at the employment contract Joseph Galli negotiated with Amazon. The risk inherent in options can be undermined, however, through the practice of repricing. When a stock options new opportunities falls sharply, the issuing company can be tempted to reduce the exercise price of previously granted options in order to increase their value for the executives who hold them.

Although fairly common in small companies—especially those in Silicon Valley—option repricing is relatively rare for senior managers of large companies, despite some well-publicized exceptions. Again, however, the criticism does not stand up to close examination. For a method of compensation to motivate managers to option bonus on the long term, it needs to be tied to a performance option bonus that looks forward rather than backward.

The traditional measure—accounting profits—fails that test. It measures the past, not the future. Stock price, however, is a forward-looking measure. Forecasts can never be completely accurate, of course.

But because investors have their own money on the line, they face enormous pressure to read the future correctly. That makes the stock market the best predictor of performance we have. But what about the executive who has a great long-term strategy that is not yet fully appreciated by the market? Or, even worse, what about the executive who can fool the market by pumping up earnings in the option bonus run while hiding fundamental problems?

Investors may be the best forecasters we have, but they are not omniscient. Option grants provide an effective option bonus for addressing these risks: slow vesting. That delay serves to reward managers who take actions with longer-term payoffs while exacting a harsh penalty on those who fail to address basic business problems.

Stock options are, in short, the option bonus forward-looking incentive plan—they measure future cash flows, and, through the use of vesting, they measure them in the future as well as in the present. If a company wants to encourage a more farsighted perspective, it should news trading video options option bonus option grants—it should simply extend their vesting periods.

Their directors and executives assume that the important thing is just to have a plan in place; the details are trivial. As a result, they let their HR departments or compensation consultants decide on the form of the plan, and they rarely examine the available alternatives.

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