Honeywell

Annual Meeting: April 25, 2016

Total disclosed compensation for CEO David Cotes was $34,527,344. This total package includes $14.3 million in incentive-based pay, some of which was earned the prior year, and which was performance driven.

Many of the features that earned Honeywell a place on our list of companies with overpaid CEOs remain this year. Some have increased. The quantum of pay at Honeywell is too high, and many of its pay practices are problematic.

These practices are symptomatic, indicative of an attitude of entitlement, of a CEO who may fail to distinguish the company from himself. One example at Honeywell is perquisites. Cote’s “all other compensation” of $927,851 includes more than half a million dollars for personal use of company aircraft. This likely that will place him among the 10 highest recipients of a slowly vanishing perquisite. (Assuming figures at other companies are consistent with those published in this analysis of 2014 ) The vast majority of S&P 500 companies disclose no such benefit, suggesting either that executives provide reimbursement for such use or do not use it at all.

Of the few CEOs that still receive these benefits at a level similar to Cotes, most serve at founder or controlled companies.
This $581,753 figures under-estimates the true cost, since ownership and maintenance of corporate jets, or those trips that combine business and pleasure. And of course it does not consider the environmental cost. One report estimated that an hour flight on a corporate jet emits more carbon dioxide than most Africans do in an entire year.

Shareholder have every reason to be concerned. Stern School of Business professor David Yermack found
using “a decade’s data on 237 large companies and found those that disclosed corporate aircraft benefits underperformed market benchmarks by more than 4 per cent a year on average.
But the personal flights are not the only unusual perquisite. Under an employment agreement signed in 2002 the company is obligated to pay for $10 million in life insurance. Likewise he is guaranteed an “above market interest rate” that added $654,595 to Coe’s already generous pension in 2015. I suppose there’s an algebraic equation using the current total amount of pension (over $55 million) that could pin down the interest rate differential that would result in such a sum, but it would depress me.

The point isn’t that we should all get guaranteed above market interest rates, or even that the sum is truly significant for the balance sheet of Honeywell, or for that matter, of Cotes. The point is what such benefits say about the CEO and the board and the power differential between them.

One notable example last year involved then Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris who faced internal audits and SEC scrutiny based on his use of company assets. example: http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/dow/

The idea seems to be, “The company is so large. I have been here so long. I can do whatever I wish.”

There’s a word for that attitude: entitlement.