CEO compensation: Sometimes pay and performance go in opposite directions

Fun (or possibly not-so-fun) factoid: Six of the CEOs running the Baltimore area's largest public companies saw their compensation soar last year even though profits shrank -- or the firms lost money.

The smallest pay-package increase among those half-dozen execs was 11 percent. The biggest? An eye-popping 402 percent, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Find out who got that increase -- and why his company says his true compensation merely doubled -- in our CEO pay story. You can see how well all the big public companies in the region paid their CEOs in this interactive chart that tracks pay and performance. (Click on a row to see all our data. Or check out the photo gallery.)

Companies usually don't like to talk about their executive pay, and when they do, it's often to say that it's not really as big as it seems. The SEC dictates how to value stock awards and the like for purposes of reporting executive pay, and some firms contend that the rules don't properly show their CEO's unique situation.

Count Constellation Energy in that group.

Shortly after merging into Exelon Corp. this year, Constellation disclosed that Mayo A. Shattuck III's total compensation in his final year as CEO was nearly $17.4 million, an 11 percent increase from 2010. The company recorded more than $300 million in losses last year.

Constellation said it had to report the compensation number that way, but it takes a different view. Its new parent, Exelon, says the grand total included "an accounting adjustment in the hypothetical value" of Shattuck's supplemental executive retirement plan, a sizable benefit that (naturally) will be paid out only after he retires.

If you don't count that amount, his compensation remained flat over the year at $12 million. Either way, he was the Baltimore region's top-paid CEO of a public company.

Constellation's shareholders gave a thumbs down last year to its executive compensation, the first and final "say on pay" vote at the company. Investors holding 61 percent of the company's shares expressed their displeasure, which was advisory only.

This year, there was no vote because Constellation was acquired. Who knows how investors would have reacted: Exelon, defending the pay packages, said the merger "created more than $1.5 billion in value for Constellation shareholders." But the stock-price increase fell far short of the company's more than $100-a-share peak in 2008.

Some of the companies we called for the CEO-pay story didn't even get back to us with a "no comment." So you can just imagine how hard it is to get a chief executive on the phone to field questions about his or her pay. But there's one in town who's consistently willing to chat.

It's the fourth year in a row that A.L. "Tom" Giannopoulos of Columbia-based Micros Systems has talked to us about his salary and incentives. CEOs, take note.

Email Jamie at or connect on Twitter @jsmithhopkins.

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