Bumpy times for stock options

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The struggling economy in 2001 sucked the air out of stock options, and corporate accounting scandals in 2002 promise to do as much or more damage.

Still, stock options for top executives in public companies covered by Advertising Age's DataCenter reports dominated all forms of compensation, claiming 70.6% of the average CEO pay package, down from 79.9% in 2000. Options are the lion's share of the "all other" column in the accompanying chart.

The decline was abetted by share values that plunged below the exercise value for options executives held in their portfolios. Exercise price must be higher than share price before an executive cashes in the options.

Companies in the future are likely to be less generous in giving options. In response to several accounting scandals, many companies have begun to count options as an expense, meaning they will cut into profits.

Apart from options, the 154 top executives in these charts drew 11% of total pay from salary and 18.4% from bonus. The median pay package was $3.6 million, down from $4.6 million in 2000.

Options swelled results for IBM Corp.'s Chairman Louis Gerstner and Michael Dell, chairman-CEO of Dell Computer Corp. Less tied to options was Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs, who drew $1 in salary and $84 million as a gift in the form of a Gulfstream jet.

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