This excerpt taken from the AAPL 10-K filed Nov 15, 2007.
D. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION PROGRAM DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION
The compensation program for the named executive officers rests on two assumptions. First, each officer must demonstrate exceptional personal performance in order to remain part of the executive team. Second, each officer must contribute as a member of the team to Apple's overall success rather than merely achieve specific objectives within that officer's area of responsibility.
The Compensation Committee determines all compensation for the named executive officers. All three Committee members are independent of Apple's management.
During the first quarter of each fiscal year, the Compensation Committee conducts an evaluation of each named executive officer to determine if any changes in the officer's compensation are appropriate based on the considerations described below. The CEO does not participate in the Committee's deliberations or decision with regard to his compensation. At the Committee's request, the CEO reviews with the Committee the performance of the other four named executive officers, but no other named executive officer has any input into executive compensation decisions. The Committee gives considerable weight to the CEO's evaluation of the other named executive officers because of his direct knowledge of each officer's performance and contributions. For each officer, the Committee members independently determine each component of compensation based on their collective assessment of the officer's performance as well as Apple's overall financial performance.
Overview. The Committee believes that long-term equity awards are the most effective way to attract and retain a superlative executive team. Accordingly, executive compensation is heavily weighted toward long-term equity awards rather than cash compensation, and the awards have long vesting intervals to maximize their retention value. This approach is reflected in the following:
In designing long-term equity awards, the Committee seeks to maximize their effectiveness in accomplishing Apple's compensation objectives while recognizing the Board's duty to Apple's shareholders to limit equity dilution. The Committee believes this balance has been achieved as follows:
Restricted Stock Units Minimize Dilution and Support Long-Term Focus. Since fiscal 2004, all equity awards to the named executive officers have been RSUs rather than stock options. A grant of RSUs gives an officer the right to receive a specified number of shares of Apple common stock, at no cost to the officer, if the officer remains employed at Apple until the RSUs vest. RSUs granted in 2004 also provide for accelerated vesting if the named executive officer is terminated without cause or on a change of control, RSUs granted before 2007 provide for accelerated vesting on a change of control, and all RSUs provide for accelerated vesting upon the death of the officer. The compensation value of an RSU does not depend solely on future stock price increases; at grant, its value is equal to Apple's stock price. Although its value may increase or decrease with changes in the stock price during the period before vesting, an RSU will have value in the long term, encouraging retention. By contrast, the entire compensation value of a stock option depends on future stock price appreciation. Accordingly, RSUs can deliver significantly greater share-for-share compensation value at grant than stock options, and Apple can offer comparable grant date compensation value with fewer shares and less dilution for its shareholders.
Long Vesting Intervals to Maximize Retention. All vesting of RSUs is generally subject to continued employment. Except for occasional new hire grants, vesting occurs at intervals of no
less than two years after the grant date. This ensures that a meaningful portion of a named executive officer's awards will vest every two yearsa strong incentive to continue employment with Apple. The following table shows the grant and vesting patterns for ongoing RSU grants for the named executive officers since fiscal 2004 (excluding those who were not named executive officers at the time of grant).
Vesting Conditions. As noted above, the vesting of all RSUs is generally contingent on the named executive officer's continued employment with Apple, rather than on performance with regard to specific business objectives. From time to time, the Compensation Committee has considered various forms of performance-based vesting. After careful evaluation, the Committee has concluded that performance-based vesting would not serve Apple's current objectives as effectively as the program described above. The Committee generally grants RSUs with two to four year vesting periods to maximize the award's retention value. This retention value would be undermined if a named executive officer's equity awards (which represent approximately 85% of the officer's compensation) were at risk based on performance measures that were determined two or even four years prior to the vesting date. Given the intensely dynamic business environment in which Apple operates, it would be extremely difficult to craft meaningful objectives with such a long horizon. Apple imposes no requirement that the named executive officers hold their common stock for any period after vesting.
Annual Burn Rate Averages Less Than 2.5%. In fiscal 2005, Apple committed to an annual "burn rate" (the total number of all equity award shares granted during the fiscal year divided by the total shares outstanding at the end of the fiscal year) of 2.5% from fiscal 2005 through fiscal 2007. This commitment represented a significant reduction from an average burn rate of 4.8% from fiscal 2002 through fiscal 2004. In fact, Apple's average annual burn rate from fiscal 2005 through fiscal 2007 was approximately 1.6%.
Overhang from Equity Plans at 12.9%. Overhang (granted and outstanding equity awards plus shares reserved for future awards, divided by the sum of total shares outstanding, granted and outstanding equity awards, and shares reserved for future awards) is another measure of equity dilution. The efficient use of equity awards, combined with the substantial exercise of employee stock options due to the significant increase in Apple's stock price over the past few years, has caused Apple's overhang to decline from approximately 14.5% at the end of fiscal 2005 to approximately 12.9% at the end of fiscal 2007.
Frequency and Size of Equity Awards. The named executive officers typically receive equity awards every two years, rather than every year. This practice is consistent with the long time horizon and lengthy vesting periods of the awards. By making awards less frequently, the Committee can provide larger grants, which in turn promotes greater retention.
To determine the size of RSU grants, the Compensation Committee first establishes a target compensation value that it wants to deliver to the named executive officers through long-term equity awards. In doing so, the Committee considers various factors, including the following:
Once the target value has been established, the Committee determines the number of shares by reference to the current value of Apple's common stock.
Base Salaries. The Committee believes that base salaries are significantly less important than performance-based bonuses and long-term equity awards in meeting Apple's compensation objectives. The minor role of salaries as part of total compensation is reflected in the following:
Performance-Based Cash Incentives. The Performance Bonus Plan, which has been approved by Apple's shareholders, authorizes the Committee to issue plan-based cash incentive awards to compensate officers for achieving specific financial objectives that are established annually. The Committee believes that performance-based cash compensation is an important component of executive compensation; however, it represents a small percentage of total compensation because its effectiveness in meeting Apple's compensation objectives is limited. It is a less significant factor in attracting new executive talent than equity compensation, and it promotes retention only in the short-termover the performance period. Accordingly, the plan is modestly funded, as reflected by the following:
The Compensation Committee establishes performance goals each year based on revenue and operating income objectives in Apple's internal business plan. The Committee has selected these performance goals because they are important indicators of increased shareholder value. These performance goals generally exclude the effects of extraordinary, unusual or infrequently occurring events or changes in accounting principles. Apple does not publicly disclose specific annual internal revenue or operating income objectives, as its business plan is highly confidential. Disclosing specific objectives would provide competitors and other third parties with insights into the planning process and would therefore cause competitive harm.
The Committee next determines the maximum amount of any cash incentive payment denominated as a percentage of base salary. The current payment structure is shown in the payout matrix below. Once the performance goals and payment structure are established, no one has the authority to modify or waive them.