NEW YORK — Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for chief executives.
The head of a typical public company made $9.6 million in 2011, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data from Equilar, an executive-pay research firm. That was up more than 6 percent from the previous year, and it's the second year in a row of increases.
Companies trimmed cash bonuses but handed out more in stock awards. For shareholder activists who have long decried CEO pay as exorbitant, that was a victory of sorts. That's because the stock awards are being tied more often to company performance. In those instances, CEOs can't cash in the shares right away: They have to meet goals first, such as boosting profit to a certain level.
The typical CEO got stock awards worth $3.6 million in 2011, up 11 percent from the year before. Cash bonuses fell about 7 percent, to $2 million.
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The value of stock options, as determined by the company, climbed 6 percent to a median $1.7 million. Options usually give the CEO the right to buy shares in the future at the price they're trading at when the options are granted, so they're worth something only if the shares go up.
The typical American worker would have to labor for 244 years to make what the typical boss of a big public company makes in one year. The median pay for U.S. workers was about $39,300 last year. That was up 1 percent from the year before, not enough to keep pace with inflation.
To determine 2011 CEO pay packages, the AP used Equilar data to look at the 322 companies in the S&P 500 that had filed statements with federal regulators through April 30. To make comparisons fair, the sample includes only CEOs who were in place for at least two years.
Among the AP's other findings:
■ David Simon, CEO of Simon Property, which operates malls around the country, is on track to be the highest-paid in the AP survey, at $137 million. That was almost entirely in stock awards that could eventually be worth $132 million, some of which won't be redeemable until 2019.
Simon's paycheck looks paltry compared with that of Apple CEO Tim Cook, whose pay package was valued at $378 million when he became CEO in August. That was almost entirely in stock awards, some of which won't be redeemable until 2021, so the value could change dramatically. Cook wasn't included in the AP study because he is new to the job.
■ About two in three CEOs got raises. For 16 CEOs in the sample, pay more than doubled from a year earlier, including Bank of America's Brian Moynihan (from $1.3 million to $7.5 million), Marathon Oil's Clarence Cazalot Jr. (from $8.8 million to $29.9 million) and Motorola Mobility's Sanjay Jha (from $13 million to $47.2 million).