My stockholder’s proxy package arrived in the mail today for Brookline Bancorp (BRKL), one of my few individual stock holdings. The first page of the annual report has a smiling CEO, Paul Perrault, proudly reporting that for 2011 net income was up by 3 percent over 2010 (to a total of $27.6 million). Why was the guy smiling so broadly after turning in such a lackluster performance? Buried in the proxy materials was the fact that his own salary grew by 48 percent over 2010 (to a total of $1.56 million). I.e., if operating profits and CEO pay at BRKL keep growing as they have, the CEO’s compensation will exceed the total operating profit of the enterprise starting in 2019.
In theory the shareholders are supposed to vote on whether or not the Board of Directors have come up with a reasonable plan for 2012 executive compensation. However, the materials distributed with the proxy all relate to 2011 pay. We will have to wait until 2013 to find out exactly how much Mr. Perrault gets.
How good a job does the 60-year-old Mr. Perrault need to do in order to get paid? The standards turn out not to be that exacting. If the guy becomes disabled he gets at least a year of salary. “In the event of death, Mr. Perrault’s estate, legal representatives, or beneficiaries shall be paid his Base Salary for a period of one year form the date of his death.” So the shareholders of BRKL are unwittingly in the disability and life insurance business.
How are the shareholders doing? Going back 10 years in Google Finance shows that BRKL is down 19 percent. The Dow Jones went up 27 percent during the same period. The Nasdaq was up 71 percent.