Apple CEO Tim Cook is perennially under fire for one reason or another, no matter how high Apple's profits are. Now, the company may have found a way to temporarily placate shareholders. In an 8-K filing today, the company announced that executive compensation will now partly depend on how much money it returns to those who own its stock — and Cook himself will lead the way by forfeiting up to half his existing scheduled stock grants if Apple doesn't perform.
In outreach discussions this year with many of our largest shareholders, we heard that they believe it is appropriate to attach performance criteria to a portion of our future executive stock awards that have been entirely time-based (i.e., vesting for continued service) in the past. We agree and, beginning today, the Company will include a performance element in new stock awards to our executive officers.
Cook was already scheduled to receive one million shares of restricted stock, half in 2016 and half in 2021, but under the new plan that amount will be broken up into yearly chunks. If the company's "total return to shareholders" is in the top third of the companies listed in the S&P 500, he'll get the full amount every year, but if it's in the middle third, he'll lose 25 percent, and lose 50 percent of that stock if the company's performance slides to the bottom third. In practice, this means Cook could get his hands on quite a few shares faster than he would otherwise, but he's also theoretically taking a risk with shares that weren't in any kind of jeopardy before.
Apple's stock price has been sliding for a while now, sans an exciting new product announcement from the company, so it's also possible Cook thinks that Apple has nowhere to go but up. The company says that there's an "exciting new product category" coming, and "more surprises" this fall.