To examine chief executive pay at the largest public companies in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs, Capital Business asked Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, to analyze pay data from corporate filings.
Equilar compiled total annual compensation figures for chief executives serving during the most recent completed fiscal year ended on or before Jan. 31. For each chief executive studied, total annual compensation includes base salary, cash bonus payouts, the grant-date value of stock and option awards, and other compensation. Other compensation typically includes benefits and perquisites.
At some companies, the leadership may have changed since our cutoff point, but we chose to report the compensation of the executive in place at the time to provide our best possible apples-to-apples comparison.
For each company, all components of compensation were collected directly from the Summary Compensation Table of the proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Grant-date values for equity awards represent the estimated value of new, service-based and performance-based stock and option awards. Although companies disclose these values, there is no guarantee that an executive will actually realize the amounts shown. An executive may earn more or less, depending on stock price movements and the achievement of vesting requirements or performance goals.
Furthermore, Equilar’s analysis reports equity awards in the fiscal year they were granted. Sometimes these awards are paid out over several years and have conditions attached, which could affect how much an executive ultimately collects. Also, in some cases, companies grant equity awards at the beginning of each fiscal year based on performance in the prior fiscal year. As a result, equity awards granted in a fiscal year should not necessarily be viewed as indicative of corporate performance in the same year.
Finally, we shared the results of our survey with companies before publication so they could respond to any inaccuracies.