The Worst of the Worst in 2011
If you're not familiar with Footnoted.com, you should become acquainted with the business blog. This Morningstar unit's data miners spend hours digging through Securities and Exchange Commission filings for salient information investors might otherwise miss. They're also hard at work on Friday nights while many people tune out at week-end happy hours -- are you aware of many companies' tendencies to conduct a Friday night "dump" of SEC filings that could include juicy tidbits?
As 2011 comes to a close, Footnoted has rounded up nominees for "The Worst Footnote of the Year" contest. Take a glance at Footnoted's nominees, and you may find it's actually pretty difficult to pick the most outrageous example of the organization's craziest catches.
- We're well aware of the astonishing collapse of MF Global (OTC: MFGLQ), but here's another outrageous tidbit to file away. The company paid Jon Corzine a retention bonus to the tune of $1.5 million just months before the company's demise.
- CC Media Holdings (OTC: CCMO) (more commonly known as Clear Channel) shelled out $3 million for CEO Bob Pittman to fly in his own jet. The golden age of media is over, but apparently not the golden paydays and perks.
- Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) ponied up $25 million in severance and other benefits, including relocation expenses back to France or Belgium, for outgoing CEO Leo Apotheker, who didn't even clock a full year on the job. Like the aforementioned Corzine, Apotheker made our own countdown of Worst CEOs of 2011.
- IBM (NYS: IBM) now boasts its first female CEO, but there's another side of the story. Outgoing chief executive Sam Palmisano became eligible for $170 million in retirement benefits just by hanging on to the job until he turned 60. Remember, every time you're looking over here, there's probably another outrage going on over there. This compensation arrangement is a good example.
- Nabors Industries' (NYS: NBR) retiring CEO became eligible for $100 million in severance, even though he hasn't technically left the company; his new role is chairman of the board of this less-than-neighborly company. It could have been worse. His previous goodbye package was supposed to be $264 million, but it was reduced after shareholders objected. No kidding!
You can vote for the worst in Footnoted's contest here; you have until Dec. 30 to decide how to cast your vote for the worst of the worst.
Keep an eye on Footnoted, and those SEC filings footnotes, in 2012. And let loose with other outrageous moments in 2011 in the comments box below, if you feel so moved. In many cases, reasons for shareholder outrage are hiding in plain sight; when it comes to your investments, it doesn't pay to be the last to know.
At the time this article was published Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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