Netflix Inc. Founder and Chief Executive Reed Hastings’ base pay has been slashed by 76% in the past five years, and will be cut again this year, but investors shouldn’t worry about keeping him happy, because his total pay has more than tripled over the same time.
In the streaming video giant’s 2019 proxy statement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission early Wednesday, the company disclosed that Hastings’ base pay was $700,000 in 2019, the same as in 2018. But his base pay was just 1.8% of last year’s total compensation of $38.58 million, which was 6.9% more than 2018’s total compensation of $36.08 million.
Hastings received no bonus in 2019, but he received stock options valued at $37.41 million. His compensation also included $465,637 for the “personal use of company aircraft.”
The disclosure of Hastings’ pay comes in the wake of the company’s first-quarter results, which were reported late Tuesday. Although profit missed expectations, revenue beat, and paid subscribers increased by a record 15.8 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was nearly double what analysts were projecting. That prompted no less than 25 analysts, of the 41 surveyed by FactSet, to boost their stock price targets.
The stock fell 2.9% to $421.42 on Wednesday, but has gained 30.2% so far in 2020, while the SPDR Communications Services Select Sector exchange-traded fund XLC, +2.69% has dropped 11.0% this year and the S&P 500 has declined 13.4%.
Hastings’ base salary hasn’t increased since 2014, when it rose to $2.96 million from $1.95 million in 2013. He’s set to take a base pay cut of 7.1% to $650,000 in 2020, but he is slated to receive stock options valued at $34 million.
Since 2007, which was the year Netflix introduced a streaming service to add to its DVD rental service, Hastings’ base pay has declined 18%, but his total compensation increased by 16X, from $2.42 million. Over the same time, the stock has rocketed more than 85X, to $323.57 at the end of 2019 from $3.80 at the end of 2007.
Meanwhile, since Netflix started disclosing the CEO pay ratio, the annual total compensation of the “median” employee has increased to $202,931 in 2019, up 0.3% from $202,335 in 2018, which was 10% better than $183,304 in 2017. The pay ratio was 190 to 1 last year, after 178 to 1 in 2018 and 133 to 1 in 2017.
Earlier Wednesday, Netflix announced the offering of $1 billion worth of debt, with denominations in both U.S. dollars and euros. Moody’s Investors Service followed affirming Netflix’s credit rating of Ba3, which is three notches deep into speculative grade, or “junk” territory, but changed the outlook to positive from stable, citing expectations that operating performance and credit metrics will continue to improve over the next 12-to-18 months.
Netflix went public in 2002, about five years after Hastings and software executive Marc Randolph founded the company, at an initial public offering price of $15. Since then, there was a 2-for-1 stock split in 2004 and a 7-for-1 split in 2015, meaning the split-adjusted IPO price is now just $1.07.