SEC Watch: Apple's CEO Cook Got $378M In 2011 As He Took On Jobs' Reins

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

The late Steve Jobs famously drew a $1 salary when he was CEO of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), with other compensation coming in the form of millions of shares in stock instead. His successor Tim Cook has so far been taking a different route, according to SEC documents filed yesterday.

The current CEO of Apple received a base salary of $900,000 as CEO, and on top of that received stock awards that brought his total 2011 compensation package to just under $378 million, according to Apple’s proxy statement filed with the SEC. As one wag put it, that’s equivalent to just over 757,500 iPads (priced at $499). In 2010, Cook received just over $59 million.

Apple compares its executive compensation with that of several other benchmark companies, which include Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Google (NSDQ: GOOG), HP (NYSE: HPQ), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) and Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM).

But in the case of Cook, “no formula or peer group ‘benchmark’ used in determining the award amount,” the statement notes. The board, consulting with Jobs, determined the amount themselves — a sign that it is outside (higher than?) the norms established by companies similar to Apple.

As my colleague Tom pointed out in his 2012 “look ahead“, Cook will likely be under intense scrutiny in the year ahead as people inevitably ask the question, “Is that what Steve Jobs would have done?” regarding every business decision he makes. However, it bears repeating here that it’s likely Apple’s product roadmap and strategy is likely laid out years ahead of time — meaning 2011 is not on auto-pilot, but neither as freeform as one might assume.

Other executives’ compensation packages were also detailed in the filing. Peter Oppenheimer, the CFO, received $1.4 million in 2011, compared to a bumper year of $29.8 million in 2010. Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet software and services, received just under $53 million. Scott Forstall, SVP of iOS software, got $1.4 million in 2010 (and similar to Oppenheimer, had $29.6 million in 2010). Ronald Johnson, the retail head, had total compensation of $1.4 million ($29.8 million in 2010).

The company also disclosed that it would have its annual shareholder meeting on February 23. At that time, it will vote on its board of directors. The nominees are William V. Campbell, Timothy D. Cook, Millard S. Drexler, Al Gore, Robert A. Iger, Andrea Jung, Arthur D. Levinson, and Ronald D. Sugar. Other items on the agenda include approving the appointment of Ernst & Young as the company’s accountants; an advisory vote on executive compensation; and several shareholder proposals including a “Conflict of Interest Report”, “Shareholder Say on Director Pay”, “Report on Political Contributions and Expenditures”, and “Adopt a Majority Voting Standard for Director Elections”.

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