Twenty-two publicly-traded home building firms--ranking No. 1 to No. 61 in our research-- closed on 168,326 homes in calendar year 2015--seven out of every 10 homes delivered in our 2015 Builder 100--and generated $59.2 billion in home building revenue during the January 1 to December 31 time period.
Progress, year-over-year, in volume and revenue, was measurable, with 12% growth in closings for the public set, and a 14.3% expansion on revenue from home building operations.
As our Public Builder Report Cards for 2015 performance will bear out, executive management, by and large, did a solid job availing of the advantage a public equity and debt capital structure gave them last year. They grew operations enough--most of them--to expand community counts and still maintained margins.
Now, as we speak, shareholder meetings are taking place for each of the public companies, and one of the ever-more-closely watched and increasingly contentious areas of focus in the "public sector" is chief executive compensation. Activist shareholder interests have stepped up CEO pay scrutiny, requiring more transparency and more performance validation, particularly for the variable, discretionary components of each CEO's compensation package.
Each year, BUILDER takes a dive into the data every public company puts out as part of their Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures, scrubbing each Proxy statement for details, explanations, and background into "named executive" pay whys and wherefores. Have a look at last year's here. And, if you're really curious, you can see how different the world of CEO pay looked in 2012 here.
Now that all of the proxy statements have been filed, we can look at a couple of the top line trends. What jumps out dramatically is the "tale of two ceos" story when it comes to total compensation changes from 2014 to 2015. Although peers as a group managed strong outcomes, compensation committees and boards of directors appear to be responding to ever greater pressure from activists on both base salary ranges, and non-equity incentive opportunity.
What you'll notice as you glance across the data set is that a relative few lusty increases--largely explainable by one-time deal, or promotional increases are throwing off a curve that actually shows almost half of the comp packages decreasing.
Net net, our bucket of 22 firms shows an average total compensation package increase of about 19.8% across the peer group, much of that triggered by performance-driven non-equity incentive pay components. Last year, we noted that the average total compensation package among the CEO peers clocked in at around $5 million, and this year the average (for 2015) jumped to $5.6 million per, against a base of about $820,000. Merit--based on hitting pre-set shareholder and stakeholder goals for the near- and longer-term--is the basis of more and more year to year variation in the total tallies. Base salaries average in at about 21% of total comp packages for the set, while non-equity incentives account for a growing portion of each deal.
It's interesting to note that while Lennar CEO Stuart Miller's pay typically ranks at the top of his class, this past year the largest increases in total compensation went to D.R. Horton CEO David Auld, MDC's Larry Mizel, and Taylor Morrison's Sheryl Palmer.
We'll be looking, in depth, at each CEO compensation package, as well as some of the other named officer salaries, and explore how the structure of each reveals operational, deal-driven, financial, and strategic challenges and opportunities for each organization.
Meanwhile, props to Hanley Wood Data Studio director Charlotte O'Malley for the research here.