Every year, shareholders of U.S. companies weigh in on executive pay by casting advisory votes on the reports of compensation committees. The committees are appointed by corporate boards to make recommendations about appropriate pay levels. Shareholders tend to take their reports at face value, voting to approve them in over 97% of cases. But their confidence is undermined by a lack of awareness about the often flawed methods compensation committees use to determine pay.
The trouble is that compensation committees frequently rely on faulty performance metrics that inflate executive pay. But the committee reports do not provide a sufficient explanation of these metrics to shareholders.
First, their reports routinely use “adjusted” earnings that are much higher than the figures calculated under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. While many companies tout adjusted numbers in their press releases on earnings, regulations require these releases to give their GAAP figures equal prominence. By contrast, there is no similar rule for compensation reports, which may use only the adjusted numbers without quantifying their differences from GAAP.
Take Merck & Co., whose CEO had a bonus goal for 2015 of $3.40 in adjusted earnings per share. The compensation committee concluded that he had met that target, since the company’s adjusted earnings were $3.56 per share. But the committee’s report failed to mention that GAAP earnings were only $1.56 per share.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18’s Malvika Jain on July 02, 2014, SP Kothari, Deputy Dean, MIT Sloan School of Management gave his take on the expectations from Arun Jaitely’s maiden Union Budget and his outlook on the road ahead for the Indian economy.
Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview:
Q: Government is in the process of preparing its first Budget since it took charge. What should be the priority areas where the government should focus?
A: Mr. Jaitley has to recognize and Mr. Modi also has to recognize that changing the furniture around the house is not going to make the house look that much different. It might make it look somewhat different but that is not a game changer and they have to think in terms of policies that dramatically alter if the goal is to increase the per capita income from where it is currently at about 1500 to say about USD 5000 in 10 years. Those game changing policies will have to focus on population growth, they will have to focus on FDI, they’ll have to focus on how our governance is and how our law enforcement is. Just to name a few set of policies that Mr. Jaitley should pay attention to in the maiden budget that he would be presenting on the 10th of July.
Q: Arun Jaitley has indicated that sector specific FDI is something that the government is going to be looking at. Do you think that that is going to be sufficient to spur investment flow into the country?
A: People’s decision to spur investment only partially hinges on what sectors are open for an investment. People’s decision to invest is influenced to a large extent by what kind of climate there is; climate includes what kind of law enforcement there is, what kind of labour supply there is, what kind of tax regime there is, what kind of regulation exists in general and is it easy to do business or not – open new businesses as well as close new businesses. So, the look has to be much more holistic in attracting foreign investment rather than a piecemeal approach by saying that we will open certain sectors for investment and wait for foreign investment to flow. I don’t think that is going to change or make a dramatic improvement in the investment climate.
As the U.S. and Europe teeter on the edge of a devastating double-dip recession, India’s economic boom—once considered a bright spot in an otherwise bleak global financial landscape—is also showing signs of weakness.
The International Monetary Fund recently cut its growth projection for India, warning that the country was perilously close to double-digit inflation. (In the past fiscal year, India’s economy grew 8.5%; before the financial crisis, its growth exceeded 9% for three straight years.) The IMF cited “a drag from renewed global uncertainty” as the main reason for the revision, but that is letting India off easy.
S.P. Kothari, deputy dean at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a former Barclays fund manager, talks about what investors should look for in choosing an investment adviser to steer them through these turbulent markets.