Though the media generally reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook has "earned" hundreds of millions
of dollars in compensation, in fact most of the money attributed to Apple's chief is theoretical, and comes in the form of stock options or Restricted Stock Units -- potential rewards Cook may never see, and won't vest for years to come. For 2013, Cook's actual yearly compensation package totalled $4.3 million, a slight rise from the $4.17 million
he made last year, his first full year as CEO.
When Cook was awarded the CEO position in mid-2011, outgoing CEO Steve Jobs and the Board of Directors offered Cook a package of one million shares of stock in the company, in the form of options and RSU, half of which don't vest until at least mid-2016 (five full years as CEO), with the rest vesting in the year 2021 (ten full years as CEO). At current value, said stock would be worth just over half a billion dollars -- but Cook doesn't see any of it unless he stays with the company (or is still employed by the company), and the value of the stock at the time it vests could be entirely different, either higher or lower in value than it is today.
In his first half-year as CEO, Cook earned $900,000
(the standard upper-level executive salary as head of Operations, even though he acted as CEO for nearly the entire year), along with $16,000 or so in the form of company contributions to his 401(k), life insurance premiums and other compensation. He also cashed out some previous stock options he had gotten in earlier years that had vested, bringing in some $58 million in total.
For 2012, Cook's first full year in the top spot, his wages rose to $4.17 million
, most of which was comprised of performance bonuses. He received $1.36 million in salary that year, and $2.8 million in bonuses -- roughly the same amounts as this year. A vacation cash-out along with normal company contributions is responsible for most of the difference in Cook's 2013 compensation.
Apart from the first year's RSU incentive awards, Cook hasn't taken or sold any additional stock holdings. A new rule at Apple requires that executives retain three times their salary's worth
of company stock during their tenure at Apple (BOD members must hold five times their compensation). Although the company has seen a general decline in stock price over the past year, the stock is likely to end the year very slightly up from where it was last December 31, and it is still considered the most valuable company in the world by market capitalization.
Of late, Apple has sought to increase share price by aggressively buying back its own shares -- a tactic that appears to have reversed the inexplicable slump. Calendar Q4 earnings are also likely to put spring into the company's step, as Apple is obviously on track for record smartphone and tablet sales, and Cook has hinted at new products coming to market in 2014. The annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for February 28, and in the same filing as the executive compensation, Apple reveals that celebrity investor Carl Icahn will launch a shareholder proposal to commit the company to buying back another $50 billion of its own stock during fiscal 2014, a proposal the company will recommend shareholders vote against.