Evaluating the Largest Pay Packages

Evaluating the Largest Pay Packages

The political outcry over excessive pay for chief executives has only grown louder recently.

In the past, investors often haven't been as concerned about high CEO pay as politicians and the public. They use the logic that a good CEO is worth hundreds of millions of dollars if he or she produces hundreds of billions of dollars for shareholders.

If only it were that simple. The recession and financial crisis have highlighted how difficult it is for investors and corporate boards to measure pay against performance. Regardless of who sat in the corner office, companies rode the bull market higher and then, when crisis hit, were pummeled by market forces beyond their control.

To get a sense of whether top companies have been getting their money's worth from their leaders, BusinessWeek decided to take the long view. Using data from Capital IQ, we tallied up the total calculated compensation for CEOs and other top executives at the U.S.'s largest companies over the last decade. (We looked at companies with market capitalizations above $10 billion, and executives who took a paycheck in all of those last 10 years. Compensation data include salary, bonus and other cash payments, along with other compensation and stock awards, but not stock options.) Then, we compared that pay with how companies have performed for shareholders. Click ahead for the full list.