The 2023 edition of the Equilar 100 offers an early look at CEO compensation packages at companies with revenues of more than $1 billion. Featured in coverage from Reuters, the study includes companies that filed annual proxy statements by March 31, considered the “half-way” point in the annual proxy season. Thousands of more public companies will file executive compensation data before the completion of proxy season.
The 2023 proxy season is the inaugural year for new SEC Pay Versus Performance (PvP) disclosure requirements. The PvP rules require public companies to disclose both tabular and narrative information reflecting the relationship between compensation actually paid (CAP) to a company’s named executive officers (NEOs) and the company’s financial performance. While the compensation figures featured in this study pertain to total disclosed compensation, Equilar has also captured CAP figures from new PvP disclosures.
The introductory page of this feature highlights the top 10 highest-paid CEOs at Equilar 100 companies in 2022. Below the highest-paid CEO table, there is a link to view the full Equilar 100 in an interactive chart that allows you to sort by compensation, CAP, revenue and other company measurements. A summary of key highlights from the report follows on this page.
|TOTAL COMPENSATION||CHANGE IN PAY||2022 CAP|
Key Trends and Takeaways
CEO compensation jumps in 2022. Median total compensation for Equilar 100 CEOs reached $22.3 million in 2022, an increase of 7.7% among the same companies from 2021. However, this pales in comparison to last year’s list* when pay for CEOs increased by 30.8% to $20 million. Barry McCarthy, CEO at Peloton Interactive, is the highest-paid CEO in this year’s study with a 2022 pay package of over $168 million.
All pay components increase, with cash bonus being the exception. The median value of cash bonuses decreased by 5.9% in 2022 to $4.2 million, a stark contrast to last year’s study when cash bonuses surged by 46.4%. Economic uncertainty is a contributing factor driving this drop in value. In 2022, the median total return for Equilar 100 companies was down 11.1%, which negatively impacted companies’ willingness to pay a premium cash bonus. Additionally, last year’s spike was largely due to the fact that many companies rewarded their CEOs and executives for remaining in their positions and successfully navigating them through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a strong economic rebound following year one of the pandemic.
Median stock awards increased by 19.7% to $13.8 million in 2022—the largest increase across all components. The negative impact of low returns isn’t reflected in the value of 2022 stock awards as the economy was much more stable to start 2022 when most awards were granted. Meanwhile, median salaries for Equilar 100 CEOs increased by 3.6% to $1.4 million in 2022, and perks saw a slight 0.2% uptick to $388,752.
Compensation actually paid is much less than total pay. While CEO pay continues to reach historic heights, first-year PvP disclosures reveal that median CAP figures for Equilar 100 CEOs were actually significantly less than total compensation at $19.3 million** in 2022—a -13.6% difference. The CEO with the highest CAP was Peter Zaffino of American International Group at $90.8 million in 2022. On the other hand, Moderna recorded the lowest CAP figure in the study—a $306.2 million loss in value for CEO Stephane Bancel, driven by the Company’s low stock performance in light of the final stages of the pandemic and decreased COVID-19 vaccine sales.
CEO compensation continues to rise at a higher rate than median employees. The CEO Pay Ratio reached 288:1 across the Equilar 100 list in 2022. In comparison, last year’s list saw a ratio of 254:1. The growing CEO Pay Ratio continues to draw the ire from the average employee, who often criticizes the idea that CEO pay increases at a much higher rate than their own pay. However, as noted earlier, the largest component of CEO pay comes in the form of stock awards, the value of which is not realized until a much later date. Meanwhile, the average employee is paid primarily a salary and bonus, making it difficult to compare the growth of CEO pay to that of the average employee. Nevertheless, with CEO compensation continuing its upward climb, the ratio will continue to be scrutinized in the public eye.
The women who lead Equilar 100 companies. This year’s study saw eight women among the highest-paid CEOs—a drop from nine on last year’s list—earning a median total compensation of $21.2 million. Similar to the previous year, the 2023 edition of the Equilar 100 did not feature a woman among the top 10 highest-paid CEOs. Julie Sweet of Accenture, whose compensation totaled $33.7 million in 2022, was the highest-paid woman CEO in the study. Overall, Sweet was the fifteenth highest-paid CEO on this year’s list.
Apple's revenue once again reigns supreme. For the fourth consecutive year, Apple led the way with the highest revenue among Equilar 100 companies. The Company boasts a 2022 revenue of over $394 billion, almost twice as high as the next largest revenue—Microsoft at $198.3 billion. Overall, the economic downturn was reflected in median revenue figures for the Equilar 100, which reached $28.5 billion in 2022. These figures are significantly lower than revenue levels from 2021 and 2020 of $43.8 billion and $37.4 billion, respectively.
*Note: While many of the companies in the Equilar 100 are consistent from year to year, due to changes in revenue and floating filing dates the list is not the same every year.
**CAP figures are inclusive of only those companies with fiscal years ending on or after December 16, 2022.
Senior Director of Content at Equilar
Amit Batish, Senior Director of Content at Equilar, authored this post. Courtney Yu, Director of Research, and Charlie Pontrelli, Data Engineer, provided data and analysis. Please contact Amit Batish at email@example.com.