Chrysler Corp. directors voted stockholders a 25-cent quarterly dividend yesterday, but the 10-cent per share increase was called not acceptable by shareholders who accused the firm's top management of being "greedy."
The dividend vote followed a 3 1/2-hour annual meeting in suburban Detroit at which shareholders repeatedly attacked Chrysler chairman John Riccardo and other top executives for the bonuses and stock options totaling $18.1 million they got last year.
The bonuses were awarded as Chrysler pulled out of a two-year sales slump.
"I'm not against bonuses if they are not directed by greed," said William Hefferan, an elderly man who said he owned "enough" Chrysler stock. "But it seems that as soon as profits improve, the executives shove their hands into the till and fill their pockets and to hell with the stockholders."
Frank P. Jordan, a Chrysler employe nominated to serve on the board of directors, said another voice was needed to help run the company.
"Chrysler is not being run for the benefit of stockholders but for the benefit of the top executives who get the lion's share of the profits," Jordan said.
In balloting, he received two-tenths of one per cent of the 47 million votes cast for a new board. But three stockholder proposals to limit bonuses and stock options received 20 per cent support - a high percentage for a stockholder proposal.
More than 400 shareholders, many of them Chrysler employes or retirees, attended the annual meeting. Critics of Chrysler management received cheers. A woman who stood up to defend the top executives was booed.
The higher dividend, payable June 10 to shareholders of record May 13, followed three quarterly dividends of 15 cents a share which were granted after six straight quarters with no dividend.
Jordan said that while the 217,000 shareholders received dividends totaling $18.1 million in two 15-cent a share dividends, the top 1,497 officers and executives received "incentive compensation awards" worth $18.1 million.
Chrysler's first quarter profit of $75.4 million was the second highest ever for the January-March period. The increased dividend will raise the total common stock payout by $6.3 million.
The first quarter gains followed record profits for 1976 of $423 million.
The higher dividend rate did not come as a surprise, since the three major U.S. auto makers enjoyed record earnings last year and in the first quarter.