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Stealth compensation: Do CEOs increase their pay by influencing dividend policy?

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  • Minnick, Kristina
  • Rosenthal, Leonard

Abstract

Companies can increase executive compensation by allowing dividends to be paid on unvested restricted stocks grants, also known as stealth compensation. Examining all S&P 500 firms over the period 2003–2007, we find that more than half of the dividend paying firms allow this practice. We look at whether this form of compensation reduces agency costs or decreases value for shareholders. We find that CEOs' stealth compensation amounts to an average of $180,000 in additional income, which increases the CEOs' cash compensation and total compensation by 9% and 2% respectively. Firms engaging in stealth compensation have higher dividend payout ratios than those not allowing stealth compensation. For all firms using stealth compensation, there is a reduction in average ROA and Tobin's Q over the long run. However, stealth compensation companies with potential agency issues see a meaningful improvement in their long run performance. For weakly governed companies, stealth compensation may act as a bonding mechanism which may serve to reduce agency costs and therefore increase shareholder value.

Suggested Citation

  • Minnick, Kristina & Rosenthal, Leonard, 2014. "Stealth compensation: Do CEOs increase their pay by influencing dividend policy?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 435-454.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:corfin:v:25:y:2014:i:c:p:435-454
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jcorpfin.2014.01.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:finana:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:38-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Burns, Natasha & McTier, Brian C. & Minnick, Kristina, 2015. "Equity-incentive compensation and payout policy in Europe," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 85-97.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Executive compensation; Payout policy; Firm performance; Corporate governance;

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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