Spansion is not entirely out of the woods, but during the most recent quarter, the company beat Wall Street's earnings expectations.
For saving Spansion from a near-death experience and salvaging 3,400 jobs, Kispert is the valley's comeback player of the year.
Rookie of the year
Gary Guthart, CEO of Intuitive Surgical
With its revolutionary robotic surgical system, Intuitive Surgical has been one of the valley's most notable successes over the past decade. Stretching back to 1997, the company has been led by Lonnie Smith, who announced in 2009 that he was stepping aside to become chairman. Not easy shoes to fill.
Fortunately, the company picked another longtime Intuitive executive, Gary Guthart, who moved into the CEO's office in January 2010. Guthart was one of eight new CEOs on the What the Boss Makes list. But with a $5 million pay package that included $4.2 million in stock options, and the company's stellar track record, he faced the greatest expectations. And so far, he's delivered.
The stock wobbled as investors were no doubt skittish about the change at the top. But this week, the stock was trading above $340 a share, close to its peak back in 2008. And during his first year, revenues rose 40 percent while profits increased 64 percent.
It's a solid start that makes Guthart my rookie of the year.
Carol Bartz, Yahoo
It's almost too easy to ding Bartz for the yawning gap between her pay and the company's performance. In her first year, her compensation was valued at $47.2 million, leading one investor research firm to label her the most overpaid CEO in the U.S. for 2009. This past year, the value of her pay package was a more modest $11.9 million, though still enough to make her one of the valley's highest-paid CEOs.
And what did shareholders get for that? The stock has risen from $12.10 a share the day she was named CEO to $14.77 on Thursday, or 22 percent. Not bad, but nowhere near what Microsoft offered to pay for the company before she took over. Meanwhile, revenue has fallen sharply as Bartz sold various assets, struck a search deal with Microsoft, and urged shareholders to be patient.
Dana Lengkeek, a Yahoo (YHOO) representative, noted that Bartz was awarded her $2.2 million cash bonus in 2010 in large part because operating income and earnings per share doubled as she reined in expenses.
"Compensation for our executive officers, including Carol, is determined by the board's compensation committee," Lengkeek said in a statement. "The committee's independent compensation consultants advised the committee with respect to trends in executive compensation, assessment of competitive pay levels and mix, and setting compensation levels, including information regarding competitive CEO pay levels."
But let's look at this another way.
Of her combined $59 million in compensation, $50.8 million has come in the form of restricted stock and options. Those awards vest only if Bartz meets various shareholder value targets, and she can't sell any of it before 2013.
To get her hands on that money, she would have to raise Yahoo's current market value of $19 billion by an additional $32 billion, according to Yahoo's securities filings. Right now, she's basically stuck at home plate, still trying to make contact.
In the next two years, Bartz will have to swing for the fences if she's going to collect that windfall; possible but unlikely. Yes, she's deposited $9 million in cash over two years. But right now, it's hard to imagine that any other valley CEO will leave such a large bounty on the table.
And for that, Bartz gets the nod for biggest compensation strikeout.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Reed Hastings, Netflix He continues to deliver for shareholders, and is one of the Valley's best bargains as CEO. 2010 Stats Cash Compensation: $519,645 Stock compensation: $4,996,988 Total pay: $5,516,633 Gains from options: $18,471,915
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Gary Guthart, Intuitive Surgical Taking over for an iconic CEO, he faced high expectations -- and exceeded them. 2010 Stats Cash Compensation: $865,630 Stock compensation: $4,184,963 Total pay: $5,050,593 Gains from options: $5,852,434
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
John Kispert, Spansion He led this company through a near-death experience and has righted the ship. 2010 Stats Cash Compensation: $5,285,116 Stock compensation: $8,583,250 Total pay: $13,868,366 Gains from options: $0
Carol Bartz, Yahoo Given Yahoo's weak performance, she's likely miss her pitch and leave a lot of money on the table. 2010 Stats Cash Compensation: $3,205,365 Stock compensation: $8,741,469 Total pay: $11.946,834 Gains from options: $0
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