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The Pay to Performance Incentives of Executive Stock Options

  • Brian J. Hall
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    Detailed data about stock option contracts are used to measure and analyze the pay to performance incentives of executive stock options. Two main issues are addressed. The first is the pay to performance incentives created by the revaluation of stock option holdings. The findings suggest that if CEO stock holdings were replaced by the same ex ante value of stock options, the pay to performance sensitivity of the median CEO would approximately double. Relative to granting at the money options, a value neutral policy of regularly granting options out of the money would increase pay to performance sensitivity by approximately 27 percent. The second issue is the pay to performance created by yearly stock option grants. Because most stock option plans are multi year plans, it is shown that different option granting plans have significantly different pay to performance incentives since changes in current stock prices affect the value of future option grants in different ways. Four option granting policies are compared and contrasted. Ranked from highest powered to lowest powered, these policies are: 1) LBO-style up-front options, 2) fixed number policies, 3) fixed value policies, and 4) an (unofficial) policy of back-door repricing.' Empirical evidence suggests that (even ignoring the revaluation of past option grants) the pay to performance relationship in practice is stronger for 1) stock option grants relative to salary and bonus, and 2) fixed number plans relative to non-fixed number plans.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6674.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6674.

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    Date of creation: Aug 1998
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6674
    Note: CF LS
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    1. Lambert, Richard A. & Lanen, William N. & Larcker, David F., 1989. "Executive Stock Option Plans and Corporate Dividend Policy," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 24(04), pages 409-425, December.
    2. Yermack, David, 1995. "Do corporations award CEO stock options effectively?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 237-269.
    3. Brian J. Hall & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 1998. "Are CEOs Really Paid Like Bureaucrats?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 653-691, August.
    4. Carpenter, Jennifer N., 1998. "The exercise and valuation of executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 127-158, May.
    5. Paul L. Joskow & Nancy L. Rose, 1994. "CEO Pay and Firm Performance: Dynamics, Asymmetries, and Alternative Performance Measures," NBER Working Papers 4976, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Agency Problems and Residual Claims," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 327-49, June.
    7. Robert C. Merton, 1973. "Theory of Rational Option Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(1), pages 141-183, Spring.
    8. Christine Jolls, 1998. "Stock Repurchases and Incentive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
    10. Rajesh Aggarwal & Andrew A. Samwick, 1998. "The Other Side of the Tradeoff: The Impact of Risk on Executive Compensation," NBER Working Papers 6634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Joskow, Paul L. & Rose, Nancy L. & Shepard, Andrea., 1993. "Regulatory constraints on executive compensation," Working papers 3550-93., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    12. Dial, Jay & Murphy, Kevin J., 1995. "Incentives, downsizing, and value creation at General Dynamics," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 261-314, March.
    13. Margrabe, William, 1978. "The Value of an Option to Exchange One Asset for Another," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(1), pages 177-86, March.
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