Annual Reports

 
Quarterly Reports

 
8-K

 
Other

  • Form 4 (Mar 9, 2018)
  • DEF 14A (Mar 1, 2018)
  • Form 3 (Feb 21, 2018)
  • SC 13G (Feb 14, 2018)
  • SC 13G (Feb 9, 2018)
  • Form 4 (Feb 7, 2018)
Noble Energy DEF 14A 2011

Documents found in this filing:

  1. Def 14A
  2. Graphic
  3. Graphic
  4. Graphic
  5. Graphic
  6. Graphic
def14a
Table of Contents

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
SCHEDULE 14A
Proxy Statement Pursuant to Section 14(a) of the Securities
Exchange Act of 1934 (Amendment No.     )
Filed by the Registrant þ
Filed by a Party other than the Registrant o
Check the appropriate box:
o   Preliminary Proxy Statement
o   Confidential, for Use of the Commission Only (as permitted by Rule 14a-6(e)(2))
þ   Definitive Proxy Statement
o   Definitive Additional Materials
o   Soliciting Material Pursuant to §240.14a-12
Noble Energy, Inc.
 
(Name of Registrant as Specified In Its Charter)
 
(Name of Person(s) Filing Proxy Statement, if other than the Registrant)
Payment of Filing Fee (Check the appropriate box):
þ   No fee required.
o   Fee computed on table below per Exchange Act Rules 14a-6(i)(1) and 0-11.
     
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(3)
  Per unit price or other underlying value of transaction computed pursuant to Exchange Act Rule 0-11 (set forth the amount on which the filing fee is calculated and state how it was determined):
 
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
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o   Fee paid previously with preliminary materials.
 
o   Check box if any part of the fee is offset as provided by Exchange Act Rule 0-11(a)(2) and identify the filing for which the offsetting fee was paid previously. Identify the previous filing by registration statement number, or the Form or Schedule and the date of its filing.
     
(1)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS To Be Held On April 26, 2011
PROXY STATEMENT
INTRODUCTION
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
VOTING SECURITIES
SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS
PROPOSAL I ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
INFORMATION CONCERNING THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
PROPOSAL II RATIFICATION OF APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT AUDITOR
PROPOSAL III ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
PROPOSAL IV ADVISORY VOTE ON FREQUENCY OF EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION VOTE
PROPOSAL V APPROVAL OF AMENDMENT AND RESTATEMENT OF 1992 STOCK OPTION AND RESTRICTED STOCK PLAN
SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF DIRECTORS AND EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION COMPENSATION DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS
REPORT OF THE COMPENSATION, BENEFITS AND STOCK OPTION COMMITTEE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
SECTION 16(a) BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP REPORTING COMPLIANCE
CERTAIN TRANSACTIONS
REPORT OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE
MATTERS RELATING TO THE INDEPENDENT AUDITOR
STOCKHOLDER PROPOSALS AND OTHER MATTERS


Table of Contents

 
(NOBLE ENERGY LOGO)
100 Glenborough Drive
Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77067-3610
 
NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS
To Be Held On April 26, 2011
 
To the Stockholders of
Noble Energy, Inc.:
 
The annual meeting of stockholders of NOBLE ENERGY, INC., a Delaware corporation (“Company”), will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, at 9:30 a.m., Central Time, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, 1601 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77380, for the following purposes:
 
  1.   To elect the nine nominees of the Board of Directors as members of the Board of Directors of the Company to serve until the next annual meeting of the Company’s stockholders;
 
  2.   To ratify the appointment of the independent auditor by the Company’s Audit Committee;
 
  3.   To approve, in a nonbinding advisory vote, the compensation of the Company’s named executive officers;
 
  4.   To determine, in a nonbinding advisory vote, whether a stockholder vote to approve the compensation of the Company’s named executive officers should occur every one, two or three years;
 
  5.   To approve the amendment and restatement of the Company’s 1992 Stock Option and Restricted Stock Plan to increase the number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the plan from 24,000,000 to 31,000,000 and modify certain plan provisions; and
 
  6.   To transact such other business as may properly come before the meeting and any adjournment or postponement thereof.
 
The Board of Directors has fixed the close of business on March 8, 2011 as the record date for the determination of stockholders entitled to notice of, and to vote at, the meeting and any adjournment or postponement thereof. Only stockholders of record at the close of business on the record date are entitled to notice of, and to vote at, the meeting. A complete list of the stockholders will be available for examination at the offices of the Company in Houston, Texas during ordinary business hours for a period of 10 days prior to the meeting.
 
A record of the Company’s activities during 2010 and its financial statements for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010 are contained in the Company’s 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K. The Annual Report does not form any part of the material for solicitation of proxies.
 
All stockholders are cordially invited to attend the meeting. Stockholders are urged, whether or not they plan to attend the meeting, to complete, date and sign the accompanying proxy card and to return it promptly in the postage-paid return envelope provided, or, alternatively, to vote their proxy by telephone or the internet according to the instructions on the proxy card. If a stockholder who has returned a proxy attends the meeting in person, the stockholder may revoke the proxy and vote in person on all matters submitted at the meeting.
 
By Order of the Board of Directors of
Noble Energy, Inc.
 
-s- Arnold J. Johnson
Arnold J. Johnson
Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
 
Houston, Texas
March 22, 2011
 
IMPORTANT NOTICE REGARDING THE AVAILABILITY OF PROXY MATERIALS FOR
THE 2011 ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS TO BE HELD ON APRIL 26, 2011.
 
The Company’s Proxy Statement for the 2011 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, Annual Report to Stockholders for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010 and Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010 are available at https://materials.proxyvote.com/655044.


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(NOBLE ENERGY LOGO)
100 Glenborough Drive
Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77067-3610
 
 
For Annual Meeting of Stockholders
To Be Held On April 26, 2011
 
INTRODUCTION
 
The accompanying proxy, mailed together with this Proxy Statement, is solicited by and on behalf of the Board of Directors (“Board of Directors” or “Board”) of Noble Energy, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Company”), for use at the annual meeting of stockholders of the Company to be held at 9:30 a.m., Central Time, on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center, 1601 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, Texas 77380, and at any adjournment or postponement thereof. The approximate date on which this Proxy Statement and the accompanying proxy will first be mailed to our stockholders is March 24, 2011.
 
Shares represented by valid proxies will be voted at the meeting in accordance with the directions given. If no directions are given, the shares will be voted in accordance with the recommendations of our Board unless otherwise indicated. Any stockholder of the Company returning a proxy has the right to revoke the proxy at any time before it is voted by communicating the revocation in writing to Arnold J. Johnson, Secretary, Noble Energy, Inc., 100 Glenborough Drive, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77067-3610, or by executing and delivering a proxy bearing a later date. No revocation by written notice or by delivery of another proxy will be effective until the notice of revocation or other proxy, as the case may be, has been received by the Company at, or prior to, the meeting.
 
In order for an item of business proposed by a stockholder to be considered properly brought before the annual meeting of stockholders as an agenda item or to be eligible for inclusion in our proxy statement, our By-laws require that the stockholder give written notice to our Secretary. The notice must specify certain information concerning the stockholder and the item of business proposed to be brought before the meeting. The notice must be received by our Secretary no later than 120 calendar days before the anniversary of the previous year’s annual meeting of stockholders; provided, however, that in the event that (1) no annual meeting was held in the previous year or (2) the date of the annual meeting has changed by more than 30 days from the date of the previous year’s meeting, notice by the stockholder must be received no later than the close of business on the tenth day following the earlier of the day on which notice of the meeting date was mailed or public disclosure of the meeting date was made for such notice to be timely. Accordingly, proper notice of a stockholder proposal for the 2012 annual meeting must be received by us no later than December 28, 2011.
 
 
Holders of record of our common stock may vote using one of the following three methods:
 
By Mail:  Stockholders of record may vote by signing, dating and returning the proxy card in the accompanying postage-paid envelope.
 
By Telephone:  Stockholders of record may call the toll-free number on the accompanying proxy card to vote by telephone, in accordance with the instructions included on the proxy card and through voice prompts received during the call.
 
By Internet:  By accessing the voting website listed on the proxy card, stockholders of record may vote through the internet in accordance with the instructions included on the proxy card and on the voting website. Stockholders electing to vote through the internet may incur telephone and internet access charges.


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Proxies submitted by telephone or the internet are treated in the same manner as if the stockholder had signed, dated and returned the proxy card by mail. Therefore, stockholders of record electing to vote by telephone or the internet should not return their proxy cards by mail.
 
Stockholders whose shares of our common stock are held in the name of a bank, broker or other holder of record (that is, “street name”) will receive separate instructions from such holder of record regarding the voting of proxies.
 
We will appoint one or more inspectors of election to act at the meeting and to make a written report thereof. Prior to the meeting, the inspectors will sign an oath to perform their duties in an impartial manner and according to the best of their ability. The inspectors will ascertain the number of shares outstanding and the voting power of each, determine the shares represented at the meeting and the validity of proxies and ballots, count all votes and ballots, and perform certain other duties as required by law.
 
The inspectors will tabulate the number of votes cast for, or withheld from, each matter submitted at the meeting for a stockholder vote. Votes that are withheld will be excluded entirely from the vote and will have no effect. Under the rules of the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), brokers who hold shares in street name have the discretionary authority to vote on certain “routine” items when they have not received instructions from beneficial owners. For purposes of our 2011 annual meeting, brokers will be prohibited from exercising discretionary authority with respect to all proposals except the ratification of the appointment of our independent auditor. In instances where brokers are prohibited from exercising discretionary authority and no instructions are received from beneficial owners with respect to such item (so-called “broker non-votes”), the shares they hold will have no effect on the vote.
 
 
We are committed to integrity, reliability and transparency in our disclosures to the public. To this end, we adhere to corporate governance practices designed to ensure that our business is conducted in the best interest of our stockholders and in compliance with our legal and regulatory obligations, including the listing standards of the NYSE and the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). We monitor developments in the area of corporate governance.
 
 
On January 25, 2011, our Board adopted stock ownership guidelines for our officers and non-employee directors. These guidelines are discussed under “Stock Ownership Guidelines” in our Compensation Discussion and Analysis in this Proxy Statement and are set out in our Corporate Governance Guidelines, which are available on our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com.
 
Effective February 1, 2011, amendments were made to the change of control arrangements for our named executive officers and other officers and employees of the Company for the purpose of eliminating tax gross-up payment obligations of the Company to those individuals. These amendments are discussed under “Change of Control Arrangements” in our Compensation Discussion and Analysis in this Proxy Statement and described in Form 8-K filed with the SEC on February 4, 2011.
 
One of our objectives is to promote a culture of corporate social responsibility that respects the rights and safety of individuals, as well as the laws, environments and sustainability of the communities in which we operate. In 2010 we adopted a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy, which is available on our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com, and continued to integrate a number of our ongoing initiatives into a corporate social responsibility program. As an example of one of those initiatives, we participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project by which companies publicly disclose on a voluntary basis certain information pertaining to greenhouse gas emissions. We also expanded the role of our Environment, Health and Safety Committee to include assisting our Board by serving as a forum for the review of Company strategy and initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility. This expanded role is reflected in the committee’s charter, which is available on our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com.


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The standards applied by our Board in affirmatively determining whether a director is “independent” in compliance with the listing standards of the NYSE generally provide that a director is not independent if:
 
1. the director is, or has been within the last three years, an employee of the Company, or an immediate family member (defined as including a person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, mothers- and fathers-in-law, sons-and daughters-in-law, brothers- and sisters-in-law, and anyone, other than domestic employees, who shares such person’s home) is, or has been within the last three years, an executive officer, of the Company;
 
2. the director has received, or has an immediate family member who has received, during any twelve-month period within the last three years, more than $120,000 per year in direct compensation from us, other than director and committee fees and pension or other forms of deferred compensation for prior service (provided such compensation is not contingent in any way on continued service);
 
3. (a) the director is a current partner or employee of our internal or external auditor; (b) the director has an immediate family member who is a current partner of that firm; (c) the director has an immediate family member who is a current employee of that firm and personally works on our audit; or (d) the director or an immediate family member was, within the last three years, a partner or employee of that firm and personally worked on our audit during that time;
 
4. the director or an immediate family member is, or has been within the last three years, employed as an executive officer of another company where any of our present executive officers at the same time serves or served on that company’s compensation committee; or
 
5. the director is a current employee, or an immediate family member is a current executive officer, of a company that has made payments to, or received payments from, us for property or services in an amount which, in any of the last three fiscal years, exceeds the greater of $1 million or 2% of such other company’s consolidated gross revenues.
 
In addition to these objective standards, our Board has adopted a general standard, also in compliance with the NYSE listing standards, to the effect that no director qualifies as “independent” unless the Board affirmatively determines that the director has no material relationship with the Company that could interfere with the director’s ability to exercise independent judgment. Our Board exercises appropriate discretion in identifying and evaluating the materiality of any relationships directors may have with us or with parties that conduct business with us.
 
On February 9, 2011, our Board reviewed our directors’ relationships with the Company (and those of their immediate family members), including information related to transactions, relationships or arrangements between the Company and our directors or parties related to our directors. The following is a description of categories or types of transactions, relationships and arrangements considered by our Board in confirming its determination that these directors are independent:
 
  •  Jeffrey L. Berenson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Berenson & Company, as well as a director and chair of the Compensation Committee of Epoch Holdings Corporation, a holding company that provides investment management and advisory services. Mr. Berenson is a former director of Patina Oil & Gas Corporation (“Patina”), which we acquired by merger in May 2005.
 
  •  Michael A. Cawley is President, Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc., to which we paid $17,500 in 2010 for the use of its aircraft. Mr. Cawley received payments totaling approximately $25,775 in 2010 attributable to his interests in certain oil and gas royalties that he purchased from the Company in the 1990s. Mr. Cawley is also a director and member of the Compensation Committee of Noble Corporation, a publicly-traded drilling company with which the Company conducted business in 2010.
 
  •  Edward F. Cox received payments in 2010 totaling approximately $298,222 attributable to his interests in certain oil and gas royalties and interests in two general partnerships that hold royalties and are managed by


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  the Company. Mr. Cox purchased these interests from the Company in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr. Cox also holds the position of chair of The New York Republican State Committee.
 
  •  Thomas J. Edelman is a director of Berenson & Company, as well as managing partner of White Deer Energy LP, an energy private equity fund that owns oil service companies with which the Company conducted business in 2010. Mr. Edelman is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Patina, which we acquired by merger in May 2005.
 
  •  Eric P. Grubman is Executive Vice President of the National Football League, and assumed the role of the league’s Chief Financial Officer in September 2010.
 
  •  Kirby L. Hedrick is a former Executive Vice President of Phillips Petroleum Company.
 
  •  Scott D. Urban is a former Group Vice President, Upstream for several profit centers at BP and is a partner in Edgewater Energy LLC, an exploration and production consulting and private investment firm. Mr. Urban is also a director and chair of the Compensation Committee, and member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, of Pioneer Drilling Company.
 
  •  William T. Van Kleef is a director and chair of the Audit Committee of Oil States International, Inc., a publicly-traded company that provides specialty products and services to oil and gas drilling and production companies worldwide and with which the Company conducted business in 2010.
 
After reviewing these categories or types of transactions, relationships and arrangements, and after applying the NYSE independence standards described above, our Board affirmatively determined that no material relationship existed that would interfere with the ability of Messrs. Berenson, Cawley, Cox, Edelman, Grubman, Hedrick, Urban or Van Kleef to exercise independent judgment and that each is independent for Board membership purposes. Our Board also determined that all members of our Audit Committee, Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee and Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee are independent under the NYSE independence standards and applicable SEC rules.
 
Leadership Structure
 
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
 
Our Board currently combines the role of chairman of the board with the role of chief executive officer (“CEO”), and maintains a separate empowered lead independent director position to further strengthen our governance structure. Our Board believes this provides an efficient and effective leadership model for the Company. Combining the chairman and CEO roles fosters clear accountability, effective decision-making and alignment on corporate strategy.
 
Our Board believes that the Company is strengthened by the chairmanship of Mr. Davidson, who provides strategic, operational and technical expertise, vision and a proven ability to lead the Company to the successes it has experienced. Under Mr. Davidson’s leadership, the Company has continued to reflect solid growth. The Board believes that, under the present circumstances, the interests of the Company and its stockholders are best served by the leadership and direction of Mr. Davidson as Chairman and CEO.
 
Our Board recognizes that no single leadership model is right for all companies and at all times and that, depending on the circumstances, other leadership models, such as a separate independent chairman of the board, might be appropriate.
 
A key responsibility of our CEO and Board is ensuring that an effective process is in place to provide continuity of Company leadership over the long term. Each year, a full review of senior leadership succession is conducted by our Board. During this review, the CEO and the independent directors discuss candidates for senior leadership positions, succession timing for those positions and development plans for the highest-potential candidates. This process ensures continuity of leadership over the long term and forms the basis on which the Company makes ongoing leadership assignments.


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Our Lead Independent Director, currently Michael A. Cawley, is elected annually by our Board. Our Lead Independent Director serves as a key component of our governance structure, subject to oversight by the independent members of our Board. We have not experienced any problematic governance or management issues resulting from our maintaining separate Chairman and CEO and Lead Independent Director positions. The Lead Independent Director’s responsibilities and authority generally include:
 
  •  approving the scheduling of regular and, where feasible, special meetings of the Board to ensure that there is sufficient time for discussion of all agenda items;
 
  •  consulting with the Chairman to establish, and approving, the agenda for each Board meeting;
 
  •  discussing with the Chairman and approving the scope of materials to be delivered to the directors in advance of Board meetings;
 
  •  presiding at all executive sessions of the independent or non-management directors and all other Board meetings at which the Chairman is not present;
 
  •  serving as a liaison between the Chairman and the independent or non-management directors;
 
  •  coordinating the activities of such directors;
 
  •  coordinating the agenda for, and moderating, sessions of the Board’s independent directors and other non-management directors;
 
  •  facilitating communications among the other members of the Board; and
 
  •  consulting with the chairs of the Board committees and soliciting their participation to avoid diluting their authority or responsibilities.
 
Our Lead Independent Director’s responsibilities and authority are more specifically described in our Corporate Governance Guidelines.
 
Our non-management directors hold executive sessions without management at regularly scheduled meetings of our Board and at such other times as our Lead Independent Director shall designate. These sessions take place outside the presence of our CEO or any of our other employees. The Lead Independent Director presides at these executive sessions, which allow our non-management directors the opportunity to separately consider management performance and broader matters of strategic significance to us. During 2010, our non-management directors met five times in executive sessions of the Board.
 
 
  •  All members of our Audit Committee have been determined to meet the standards of independence required of audit committee members by the NYSE and applicable SEC rules. See “Director Independence” above.
 
  •  Our Board has determined that all members of our Audit Committee are financially literate. Our Board has also determined that William T. Van Kleef possesses accounting or related financial management expertise within the meaning of the listing standards of the NYSE and is an “audit committee financial expert” within the meaning of applicable SEC rules.
 
  •  KPMG LLP, our independent auditor, reports directly to our Audit Committee.
 
  •  Our Audit Committee, consistent with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the rules adopted thereunder, meets with management and our independent auditor to receive information concerning, among other things, the integrity of our financial controls and reporting.
 
  •  Our Audit Committee has adopted a Policy on Reporting Concerns and Complaints Regarding Accounting, Internal Accounting Controls and Auditing Matters to enable confidential and anonymous reporting to the Audit Committee of concerns regarding questionable accounting matters.


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  •  All members of our Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee (“Compensation Committee”) have been determined to meet the NYSE standards for independence. See “Director Independence” above. Further, each member of our Compensation Committee is a “Non-Employee Director” as defined in Rule 16b-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), and an “outside director” as defined for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (“Internal Revenue Code”).
 
 
  •  All members of our Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee (“Governance Committee”) have been determined to meet the NYSE standards for independence. See “Director Independence” above.
 
  •  Our Governance Committee considers candidates for Board membership suggested by its members and other Board members, as well as by our management and stockholders. A stockholder who wishes to recommend a prospective nominee for the Board should follow the procedures described in this Proxy Statement under the caption “Stockholder Nominees.”
 
Committee Charters
 
Each of our Board committees operates under a charter adopted by our Board that governs its duties and conduct. A copy of each charter can be obtained free of charge from our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com, or by written request to us at the address appearing on the first page of this Proxy Statement to the attention of our Secretary or by calling (281) 872-3100.
 
Oversight of Risk Management
 
Our risk management program is overseen by our Board and its committees, with support from our management and external consultants. Our Board and its committees interact in this effort through discussions arising out of committee reports at each regular Board meeting.
 
Enterprise risk management is a routinely scheduled agenda item for regular Board meetings, with our Chairman consulting with our Lead Independent Director to define the topic and scope of each discussion. A number of other Board processes support our risk management effort, such as those by which our Board reviews and approves our capital budget and certain capital projects, hedging policy, new country entry, significant acquisitions and divestitures, equity and debt offerings and the delegation of authority to our management.
 
Our Audit Committee plays an important role in risk management by assisting our Board in fulfilling its responsibility to oversee the integrity of our financial statements and our compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. The committee retains, and interacts directly with, our independent auditors of financial statements and oil and gas reserves, and holds periodic reviews with our management to address financial and related disclosures, key legal and regulatory developments and possible enhancements to our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics.
 
Our Governance Committee’s role in our risk management program includes annually reviewing developments in the area of corporate governance and our Corporate Governance Guidelines in order to recommend appropriate actions to our Board. It also reviews director independence, Board membership and committee assignments and makes adjustments in order to ensure that we have the appropriate director expertise to oversee the Company’s evolving business operations.
 
Our Environment, Health and Safety (“EH&S”) Committee plays an important role in risk management by assisting our Board in determining whether we have appropriate policies and management systems in place with respect to EH&S matters and monitoring and reviewing compliance with applicable EH&S laws, rules and regulations. This includes periodic reviews of EH&S performance, our annual EH&S audit schedule, key EH&S legal and regulatory developments and trends such as climate change, and Company initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility.


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Our Compensation Committee reviews our proxy statement Compensation Discussion and Analysis and discusses its disclosures with our management. It evaluates our CEO’s performance, considering input from our other independent directors on Company risk management efforts and other criteria. The committee also reviews our compensation program, most recently on October 25, 2010, in an effort to ensure that it remains aligned with our compensation objectives and to address any potential risks that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the Company. There are several design features of our short- and long-term incentive plans for all employees that reduce the likelihood of excessive risk-taking: the program design provides a balanced mix of cash and equity and short- and long-term incentives; the maximum payout under our short-term incentive plan is capped at 2.5 times the aggregate target bonus pool for all employees; and all of our regular U.S. employees participate in the same short-term incentive plan. Our recent adoption of stock ownership guidelines and elimination of tax gross-up payment obligations from our change of control arrangements also support our risk management effort. See “Recent Corporate Governance Initiatives” above.
 
 
  •  We have adopted a set of Corporate Governance Guidelines, including standards for director qualification and director responsibilities. The guidelines can be obtained free of charge from our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com, or by written request to us at the address appearing on the first page of this Proxy Statement to the attention of our Secretary or by calling (281) 872-3100.
 
 
  •  We have adopted a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics that applies to our directors, officers and employees and sets out our policy regarding laws and business conduct, contains other policies relevant to business conduct and sets out a process for reporting violations thereof.
 
  •  We have also adopted a Code of Ethics for Chief Executive and Senior Financial Officers, violations of which are to be reported to our Audit Committee.
 
  •  A copy of these codes can be obtained free of charge from our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com, or by written request to us at the address appearing on the first page of this Proxy Statement to the attention of our Secretary or by calling (281) 872-3100. Amendments to these codes will be promptly posted on our website.
 
 
We comply with, and operate in a manner consistent with, applicable law prohibiting extensions of credit in the form of personal loans to, or for the benefit of, our directors and executive officers.
 
 
All of our directors are expected to attend each annual meeting of our stockholders. A director who is unable to attend the annual meeting, which it is understood will occur on occasion, is expected to notify the Chairman of the Board in advance of such meeting. Attendance at our annual meeting will be considered by our Governance Committee in assessing each director’s performance. Last year, all of our directors attended our annual meeting of stockholders.
 
 
Stockholders and other interested parties may contact any member of our Board, any Board committee or any chair of any such committee by mail, electronically or by calling our independent, toll-free compliance line. To communicate by mail with our Board, any individual director, or any group or committee of directors, correspondence should be addressed to our Board or any individual director or group or committee of directors by either name or title. All correspondence should be sent to Noble Energy, Inc., Attention: Secretary, at 100 Glenborough Drive, Suite 100, Houston, Texas 77067-3610. To communicate with any of our directors electronically,


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stockholders should go to our website, www.nobleenergyinc.com. Under the heading “Corporate Governance” you will find a link “Contact the Board” that may be used for writing an electronic message to our Board, any individual director, or any group or committee of directors. In addition, stockholders may call our independent, toll-free compliance line listed on our website under the same link.
 
All stockholder communications properly received will be reviewed by the office of our General Counsel to determine whether the contents represent a message to our directors. Any contents that are not in the nature of advertising, promotions of a product or service, or patently offensive material will be forwarded promptly to the appropriate director or directors.


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Only holders of record of our common stock, par value $3.331/3 per share, at the close of business on March 8, 2011, the record date for our annual meeting, are entitled to notice of, and to vote at, the meeting. A majority of the shares of common stock entitled to vote, present in person or represented by proxy, is necessary to constitute a quorum. Abstentions and broker non-votes on filed proxies and ballots are counted as present for establishing a quorum. On the record date for our annual meeting, there were issued and outstanding 176,276,634 shares of common stock. Each share of common stock is entitled to one vote.
 
 
The following tabulation sets forth, as of March 8, 2011, information with respect to the only persons who were known to us to be beneficial owners of more than five percent of the outstanding shares of our common stock, based on statements filed with the SEC pursuant to Section 13(g) or 13(d) of the Exchange Act.
 
                 
    Number of Shares
   
    of Common Stock
  Percent
Name and Address of Beneficial Owner
  Beneficially Owned   of Class
 
FMR LLC
    16,651,086 (1)     9.5 %
82 Devonshire Street
               
Boston, MA 02109
               
                 
Capital World Investors
    13,134,000 (2)     7.5 %
333 South Hope Street
               
Los Angeles, CA 90071
               
                 
Blackrock, Inc. 
    11,332,201 (3)     6.4 %
40 East 52nd Street
               
New York, NY 10022
               
 
 
(1) Included in the shares of common stock that are beneficially owned by FMR LLC are (a) 16,523,343 shares beneficially owned by Fidelity Management & Research Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of FMR LLC and an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Investment Advisers Act”) (which includes 13,283,436 shares held by Fidelity Contrafund, an investment company), (b) 1,969 shares beneficially owned by Strategic Advisors, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of FMR LLC and an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act, and (c) 125,774 shares beneficially owned by Pyramis Global Advisors Trust Company, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of FMR LLC and a bank as defined under Section 3(a)(6) of the Exchange Act.
 
(2) Capital World Investors is deemed to be the beneficial owner of 13,134,000 shares of common stock as a result of CRMC acting as investment adviser to various investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940. Capital World Investors has sole voting power and dispositive power with respect to 13,134,000 shares of common stock.
 
(3) Blackrock, Inc. is deemed to be the beneficial owner of 11,332,201 shares of common stock and has sole voting and dispositive power with respect to such shares.
 
PROPOSAL I
 
 
As of the date of this Proxy Statement, our Board consists of nine directors, eight of whom are independent. The business experience of each nominee as well as the qualifications that led our Board to select each nominee for election to the Board is discussed below. All directors are elected annually to serve until the next annual meeting and until their successors are elected.
 
Directors in uncontested elections will be elected by majority vote of the shares cast at the 2011 annual meeting. A majority of the votes cast means that the number of votes cast “for” a director nominee must exceed the number of votes cast “against” that director nominee. In contested elections (an election in which the number of


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nominees for director is greater than the number of directors to be elected) the vote standard will be a plurality of votes cast.
 
In accordance with our Corporate Governance Guidelines, our Board will nominate for election or re-election as a director only candidates who agree to tender, promptly following the annual meeting, irrevocable resignations that will be effective upon (i) the failure to receive the required vote at the next annual meeting and (ii) acceptance by the Board. In addition, our Board will fill director vacancies and new directorships only with candidates who agree to tender the same form of resignation promptly following their appointment to the Board.
 
If an incumbent director fails to receive the required vote for re-election, then, within 90 days following certification of the stockholder vote, our Governance Committee will act to determine whether to accept the director’s resignation and will submit its recommendation for prompt consideration by our Board, and the Board will act on the Committee’s recommendation. Promptly thereafter, our Board will publicly disclose its decision-making process and decision regarding whether to accept the director’s resignation (or the reason(s) for rejecting the resignation, if applicable).
 
Any director who tenders a resignation pursuant to this provision of our Corporate Governance Guidelines may not participate in the Governance Committee recommendation or Board action regarding whether to accept his or her resignation. If each member of our Governance Committee fails to receive the required vote in favor of his or her election in the same election, then a majority of the directors who did receive the required vote will appoint a committee of independent directors to consider the resignations and recommend to the Board whether to accept them. However, if three or fewer independent directors receive the required vote for election, all directors may participate in the action regarding whether to accept the resignations.
 
Our Board expects that all of the nominees will be available to serve as directors as indicated. In the event that any nominee should become unavailable, however, the proxyholders will vote for a nominee or nominees who would be designated by our Board unless the Board chooses to reduce the number of directors serving on our Board.
 
 
Jeffrey L. Berenson — Mr. Berenson, age 60, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Berenson & Company, a private investment banking firm in New York City that he co-founded in 1990. From 1978 until co-founding Berenson & Company, he was with Merrill Lynch’s Mergers and Acquisitions department, becoming head of that department in 1986 and then co-head of its Merchant Banking unit in 1988. Mr. Berenson was appointed to the Board of Directors of Patina Oil & Gas Corporation (“Patina”) in December 2002 and joined our Board upon completion of our merger with Patina on May 16, 2005. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Epoch Holdings Corporation. Mr. Berenson brings a strong financial and executive management background to our Board as well as important historical perspective on the organization and assets acquired in our Patina merger.
 
Michael A. Cawley — Mr. Cawley, age 63, has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. (“Foundation”) since February 1, 1992, after serving as Executive Vice President of the Foundation since January 1, 1991. Prior to 1991, Mr. Cawley was the President of Thompson, Cawley, Veazey & Burns, a professional corporation, attorneys at law. Mr. Cawley has served as a trustee of the Foundation since 1988 and is also a director of Noble Corporation. He has served on our Board since 1995 and has been our Lead Independent Director since 2001. Mr. Cawley brings a strong legal and executive management background to our Board, complementary to his role as our Lead Independent Director.
 
Edward F. Cox — Mr. Cox, age 64, is chair of The New York Republican State Committee (“NYRSC”) and was previously for more than five years a partner in the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, New York, New York, serving as the chair of the firm’s corporate department and as a member of its management committee. For more than five years he has been chair of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and, for more than five years prior to his election as NYRSC chair in 2009, was chair of the community college and charter school committees of the Trustees of The State University of New York and of the State University Construction Fund, and was a member of New York’s merit selection constitutional Commission on Judicial Nomination. During the two years leading up to his 2009 election as NYRSC chair, Mr. Cox served as the New York State Chair of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign. He has served Presidents Nixon, Reagan and


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H. W. Bush in the international arena, has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1993 and serves on the boards of the Foreign Policy Association, the Levin Institute (State University of New York) and the American Ditchley Foundation. He has served on our Board since 1984. Mr. Cox brings a strong legal and foreign relations background to our Board, with experience in corporate governance matters.
 
Charles D. Davidson — Mr. Davidson, age 61, has served as our Chief Executive Officer since October 2000 and has served as Chairman of our Board since April 2001. In addition, he served as our President from October 2000 through April 2009. Prior to October 2000, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Vastar Resources, Inc. (“Vastar”) from March 1997 to September 2000 (Chairman from April 2000) and was a Vastar director from March 1994 to September 2000. From September 1993 to March 1997, he served as a Senior Vice President of Vastar. From 1972 to October 1993, he held various positions with ARCO. Mr. Davidson brings a strong oil and gas operational and executive management background to our Board, having industry experience in domestic and international operations.
 
Thomas J. Edelman — Mr. Edelman, age 60, founded Patina Oil & Gas Corporation and served as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from its formation in 1996 through its merger with Noble Energy, Inc. in 2005. He co-founded Snyder Oil Corporation and was its President from 1981 through 1997. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and later as Chairman of Range Resources Corporation from 1988 through 2003. From 1980 to 1981, he was with The First Boston Corporation and, from 1975 through 1980 with Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb Incorporated. Mr. Edelman is currently Managing Partner of White Deer Energy LP, an energy private equity fund. He is also President of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a Trustee and Chair of the Investment Committee of The Hotchkiss School, a member of the Board of Directors of Georgetown University and a director of Berenson & Company. Mr. Edelman brings a strong financial and executive management background to our Board as well as important historical perspective on the organization and assets acquired in our Patina merger.
 
Eric P. Grubman — Mr. Grubman, age 53, has served as Executive Vice President of the National Football League since 2004. He was responsible for Finance and Strategic Transactions from 2004 to 2006, has served as the League’s President of Business Ventures from 2006 to present and assumed the role of Chief Financial Officer in September 2010. Mr. Grubman was a private investor from 2001 to 2004, Co-President of Constellation Energy Group, Inc. from 2000 to 2001 and Partner and Co-Head of the Energy Group at Goldman Sachs from 1996 to 2000. He joined our Board on January 27, 2009. Mr. Grubman brings a strong financial and executive management background to our Board, and familiarity with the energy sector through his prior investment banking experience.
 
Kirby L. Hedrick — Mr. Hedrick, age 58, served as Executive Vice President over upstream operations for Phillips Petroleum Company from 1997 until his retirement in 2000. He joined our Board on August 1, 2002. Mr. Hedrick brings a strong oil and gas operational and executive management background to our Board, having industry experience that includes major international project development.
 
Scott D. Urban — Mr. Urban, age 57, served in executive management positions at Amoco and its successor, BP, from 1977 to 2005. At the time of his retirement from BP in 2005, he was Group Vice President, Upstream for several profit centers including North America Gas, Alaska, Egypt and Middle East and, before that, Group Vice President, Upstream North Sea. He held various positions at Amoco including, at the time of its merger with BP, Group Vice President, Worldwide Exploration. Mr. Urban is also a partner in Edgewater Energy LLC, an exploration and production consulting and private investment firm, and a member of the Board of Directors of Pioneer Drilling. He joined our Board on October 23, 2007. Mr. Urban brings a strong oil and gas operational and executive management background to our Board, having industry experience that includes major international project development.
 
William T. Van Kleef — Mr. Van Kleef, age 59, served in executive management positions at Tesoro Corporation (“Tesoro”) from 1993 to 2005, most recently as Tesoro’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. During his tenure at Tesoro, Mr. Van Kleef held various positions, including President, Tesoro Refining and Marketing, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Before joining Tesoro, Mr. Van Kleef, a Certified Public Accountant, served in various financial and accounting positions with Damson Oil from 1982 to 1991, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He joined our Board on November 11, 2005. Mr. Van Kleef is also a member of the Board of Directors of Oil States International, Inc.


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Mr. Van Kleef brings a strong financial, accounting and executive management background to our Board, as well as experience in the downstream side of our business.
 
Generally, our By-laws provide that a stockholder must deliver written notice to our Secretary no later than 120 calendar days prior to our annual meeting naming the stockholder’s nominee(s) for director and specifying certain information concerning the stockholder and nominee(s) as described below under the section “Stockholder Nominees.” Accordingly, a stockholder’s nominee(s) for director to be presented at our 2012 annual meeting of stockholders must be received by us no later than December 28, 2011.
 
Our Board unanimously recommends that stockholders vote “FOR” the election of each of its nine nominees.
 
 
Our Board held nine meetings in 2010, consisting of five regular meetings, its annual organizational meeting and three special meetings.
 
 
Our Governance Committee believes that the minimum qualifications for serving as a director of the Company are that a nominee demonstrate, by significant accomplishment in his or her field, an ability to make a meaningful contribution to our Board’s oversight of the business and affairs of the Company and have an impeccable record and reputation for honest and ethical conduct in both his or her professional and personal activities. Nominees for director shall be those people who, after taking into account their skills, expertise, integrity, diversity, character, judgment, age, independence, corporate experience, length of service, potential conflicts of interest and commitments (including, among other things, service on the boards or comparable governing bodies of other public companies, private business companies, charities, civic bodies or similar organizations) and other qualities, are believed to enhance our Board’s ability to manage and direct, in an effective manner, the affairs and business of the Company, including, when applicable, to enhance the ability of committees of our Board to fulfill their duties and to satisfy any independence requirements imposed by law, regulation or listing standards of the NYSE.
 
In general, nominees for director should have an understanding of the workings of large business organizations such as the Company and senior level executive experience, as well as the ability to make independent, analytical judgments, the ability to be an effective communicator and the ability and willingness to devote the time and effort to be an effective and contributing member of our Board. In addition, our Governance Committee will examine a candidate’s specific experiences and skills, time availability in light of other commitments, potential conflicts of interest and independence from management and the Company. Our Governance Committee will also seek to have our Board represent a diversity of backgrounds, experience, gender and race.
 
Our Governance Committee will identify potential nominees by asking current directors and executive officers to notify the committee if they become aware of persons meeting the criteria described above who have had a change in circumstances that might make them available to serve on our Board — for example, retirement as a CEO or CFO of a public company or exiting government or military service or business and civic leaders in the communities in which our facilities are located. Our Governance Committee also, from time to time, will engage firms that specialize in identifying director candidates. Our Governance Committee will also consider candidates recommended by our stockholders.
 
Once a person has been identified by our Governance Committee as a potential candidate, the committee may collect and review available information regarding the person to assess whether the person should be considered further. If our Governance Committee determines that the person warrants further consideration, the committee Chair or another member of our Governance Committee will contact the individual. Generally, if the person expresses a willingness to be considered and to serve on our Board, our Governance Committee will request information, review the person’s accomplishments and qualifications, including in light of any other candidates that the committee might be considering, and conduct one or more interviews with the candidate. In certain instances, Governance Committee members may contact one or more references provided by the candidate or may contact other members of the business community or other persons that may have greater first-hand knowledge of the


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candidate’s accomplishments. Our Governance Committee’s evaluation process will be the same whether or not a candidate is recommended by a stockholder, although our Board may take into consideration the number of shares held by the recommending stockholder and the length of time that such shares have been held.
 
Our Governance Committee annually reviews its long-term plan for Board composition, giving consideration to the foregoing factors. Based on this review in July 2010, the committee concluded that the current Board size and composition continued to be appropriate in light of the Company’s focus and operations.
 
Stockholder Nominees
 
Our Governance Committee will consider director nominees of stockholders, provided that such recommendations are made in writing to the attention of our Secretary and generally received not less than 120 days before the anniversary date of the immediately previous year’s annual meeting of stockholders. A stockholder must include the following information with each recommendation for a director nominee:
 
  •  the name and address of the stockholder and evidence of the stockholder’s ownership of our stock, including the number of shares owned and the length of time of ownership, as well as any other direct or indirect pecuniary or economic interest the person may have in any of our stock;
 
  •  whether the stockholder intends to appear in person or by proxy at our annual stockholders’ meeting to make the nomination;
 
  •  a description of all arrangements or understandings between the stockholder and the nominee and any other person or persons (naming such person or persons) pursuant to which the nomination is made;
 
  •  the name, age and business and residence address of the candidate, the candidate’s résumé or a listing of his or her principal occupation or employment and qualifications to be a member of our Board and the candidate’s consent to be named as a director if selected by our Governance Committee and nominated by our Board; and
 
  •  the class and number of shares of our stock that are beneficially owned by the candidate and any other direct or indirect pecuniary economic interest that the candidate may have in any of our stock.
 
 
Our Board has four standing committees, whose names, current members and purposes are as follows:
 
Audit Committee — William T. Van Kleef, Chair; Michael A. Cawley; Eric P. Grubman; and Scott D. Urban. The primary purpose of our Audit Committee is to: (1) assist our Board in fulfilling its responsibility to oversee the integrity of our financial statements, our compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, the independent auditor’s qualifications and independence, and the performance of our internal audit function and independent auditor and (2) prepare a committee report as required by the SEC to be included in our annual proxy statement. Our Audit Committee held five meetings during 2010. For more details, see information under the section “Report of the Audit Committee.”
 
Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee — Kirby L. Hedrick, Chair; Jeffrey L. Berenson; Edward F. Cox; and Thomas J. Edelman. The purpose of our Compensation Committee is to: (1) review and approve our goals and objectives in the areas of: (a) salary and bonus compensation, (b) benefits, and (c) equity-based compensation, as they relate to our CEO, evaluating our CEO’s performance based on those goals and objectives and, either as a committee or together with the other independent directors (as directed by our Board), determine and approve our CEO’s compensation level based on that evaluation; (2) make recommendations to our Board with respect to non-CEO executive officer compensation, incentive-compensation plans and equity-based plans that are subject to Board approval; and (3) produce an annual report on executive compensation as required by the SEC to be included, or incorporated by reference, in our proxy statement or other applicable SEC filings. Our Board has delegated authority to our Compensation Committee to determine and approve our compensation philosophy; the annual salary, bonus, equity-based compensation and other benefits applicable to our executive officers; and equity-based compensation applicable to non-


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executive-officer employees. Our Compensation Committee held eight meetings during 2010. For more details, see information under the section “Compensation Discussion and Analysis.”
 
Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee — Michael A. Cawley, Chair; Jeffrey L. Berenson; Edward F. Cox; Thomas J. Edelman; Eric P. Grubman; Kirby L. Hedrick; Scott D. Urban; and William T. Van Kleef. The overall purpose of our Governance Committee is to: (1) take a leadership role in providing a focus on corporate governance to enable and enhance our short- and long-term performance; (2) engage in appropriate identification, selection, retention and development of qualified directors consistent with criteria approved by our Board; (3) develop, and recommend to our Board, a set of corporate governance principles or guidelines applicable to us; (4) advise our Board with respect to the Board’s composition, procedures and committees; and (5) oversee the evaluation of our Board and management. Our Governance Committee held five meetings during 2010.
 
Environment, Health and Safety Committee — Edward F. Cox, Chair; Charles D. Davidson; Thomas J. Edelman; Kirby L. Hedrick; and Scott D. Urban. The overall purpose of our Environment, Health and Safety Committee is to assist our Board in determining whether we have appropriate policies and management systems in place with respect to environment, health and safety (“EH&S”) matters and to monitor and review compliance with applicable EH&S laws, rules and regulations. The committee is further assisting the Board by serving as a forum for the review of Company strategy and initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility. Our Environment, Health and Safety Committee held three meetings during 2010.
 
Meeting Attendance
 
All of our directors attended at least 75% of the meetings of our Board and its committees of which such director was a member during 2010.
 
 
Kirby L. Hedrick, Jeffrey L. Berenson and Edward F. Cox served on our Compensation Committee for all of 2010, with Mr. Edelman who was appointed to the committee by our Board on April 27, 2010. There were no Compensation Committee interlocks nor insider (employee) participation during 2010.
 
PROPOSAL II
 
 
The Audit Committee of our Board has appointed the firm of KPMG LLP to serve as our independent auditor for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2011. This firm has audited our accounts since May 2002. Although action by our stockholders on this matter is not required, our Audit Committee believes that it is important to seek stockholder ratification of this appointment in light of the critical role played by our independent auditor in maintaining the integrity of our financial controls and reporting.
 
One or more representatives of KPMG LLP are expected to be present at our annual meeting, will be able to make a statement if they so desire, and will be available to respond to appropriate questions.
 
Our Board unanimously recommends that stockholders vote “FOR” ratification of the appointment of KPMG LLP as our independent auditor.
 
PROPOSAL III
ADVISORY VOTE ON EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
 
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in July 2010, requires that we provide our stockholders with the opportunity to vote to approve, on a nonbinding advisory basis, the compensation of our named executives officers as disclosed in this Proxy Statement in accordance with the SEC’s compensation disclosure rules.


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As described in our Compensation Discussion and Analysis in this Proxy Statement, we seek to link compensation strongly to performance through the use of financial incentives that are tied to the Company’s operational and financial performance. Our compensation programs are designed to reward our named executive officers for the achievement of short- and long-term strategic and operational goals and the achievement of increased total shareholder return, while at the same time avoiding the encouragement of unnecessary or excessive risk-taking.
 
We believe the Company had an excellent year in 2010. Production was very close to target under our short-term incentive plan, as adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures, discretionary cash flow (a non-GAAP financial measure that is calculated by adding back depreciation, depletion, amortization and various other non-cash expense items to net income) was above target and reserve additions were at a record high, as were exploration resources added through discoveries. Highlighting our exploration success was the announcement at the end of the year of another major discovery offshore Israel at our Leviathan prospect. We achieved favorable results in a number of financial metrics compared to fiscal year 2009. Our 2010 safety performance was among our best over the past ten years. Also in 2010, we maintained a competitive cost structure although unit costs were not as low, relative to peers, as in previous years. Major initiatives were achieved including the sanction of the Tamar and Alen projects (Israel and Equatorial Guinea, respectively), the closing of our Petro-Canada acquisition (Rocky Mountains) and the sale of our non-core Mid-continent assets. We believe that our organization’s response to the issues arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident was outstanding.
 
The vote on this resolution is not intended to address any specific element of compensation; rather, the vote relates to the compensation of our named executive officers as disclosed in this Proxy Statement in accordance with the SEC’s compensation disclosure rules. The vote is advisory, which means that it is not binding on the Company, our Board or the Compensation Committee of our Board. To the extent there is any significant vote against our named executive officer compensation as disclosed in this Proxy Statement, our Compensation Committee will evaluate whether any actions are necessary to address the concerns of stockholders.
 
This proposal will be approved on an advisory basis if it receives the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present or represented and entitled to vote either in person or by proxy. As noted earlier in this Proxy Statement, broker non-votes will not affect the outcome of this proposal, and abstentions will be equivalent to a vote against this proposal. If no voting specification is made on a properly returned or voted proxy card, the proxies named on the proxy card will vote “FOR” the proposal.
 
Accordingly, we ask our stockholders to vote on the following resolution at our annual meeting:
 
“RESOLVED, that the Company’s stockholders approve, on an advisory basis, the compensation of the named executive officers, as disclosed in the Company’s Proxy Statement for the 2011 annual meeting of stockholders pursuant to the compensation disclosure rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Compensation Discussion and Analysis, the 2010 Summary Compensation Table and the other related tables and disclosure.”
 
Our Board unanimously recommends that the stockholders vote “FOR” the approval of the compensation of our named executive officers, as disclosed in this Proxy Statement.
 
PROPOSAL IV
 
ADVISORY VOTE ON FREQUENCY OF EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION VOTE
 
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also provides that stockholders must be given the opportunity to vote, on a nonbinding advisory basis, for their preference as to how frequently we should seek future advisory votes on the compensation of our named executive officers as disclosed in accordance with the SEC’s compensation disclosure rules, which we refer to as an advisory vote on executive compensation. By voting on this proposal, stockholders may indicate whether they would prefer that we conduct future advisory votes on executive compensation once every one, two, or three years. Stockholders also may, if they wish, abstain from casting a vote on this proposal.


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Our Board has determined that an annual advisory vote on executive compensation will allow our stockholders to provide timely, direct input on the Company’s executive compensation philosophy, policies and practices as disclosed in our proxy statement each year. The Board believes that an annual vote is therefore consistent with the Company’s efforts to engage in an ongoing dialogue with our stockholders on executive compensation and corporate governance matters.
 
The Company recognizes that the stockholders may have different views as to the best approach for the Company, and therefore we look forward to hearing from our stockholders as to their preferences on the frequency of an advisory vote on executive compensation.
 
This vote is advisory, which means that it is not binding on the Company, our Board or the Compensation Committee of our Board. Our Board and the Compensation Committee will take into account the outcome of the vote, however, when considering the frequency of future advisory votes on executive compensation. Our Board may decide that it is in the best interests of our stockholders and the Company to hold an advisory vote on executive compensation on a different frequency than the frequency receiving the most votes cast by our stockholders.
 
The proxy card provides stockholders with the opportunity to choose among four options (holding the vote every one, two or three years, or abstaining) and, therefore, stockholders will not be voting to approve or disapprove the recommendation of our Board.
 
The advisory vote regarding frequency of a stockholder advisory vote on executive compensation will be determined by whichever of the choices — annually, every other year or every three years — receives the greatest number of votes cast. Shares represented by proxies that are marked to indicate abstentions from this proposal and broker non-votes with respect to this proposal will not affect its outcome. If no voting specification is made on a properly returned or voted proxy card, the proxies named on the proxy card will vote “FOR” a frequency of “one year” for future advisory votes regarding executive compensation.
 
Our Board unanimously recommends that stockholders vote “FOR” the option of once every year as the preferred frequency for the advisory vote on executive compensation.
 
PROPOSAL V
 
APPROVAL OF AMENDMENT AND RESTATEMENT OF
 
The Noble Energy, Inc. 1992 Stock Option and Restricted Stock Plan (“1992 Plan”) was adopted by our Board and approved by our stockholders at the 1992 annual meeting of stockholders, and was most recently amended in 2009. At the 2011 annual meeting, our stockholders are being asked to approve an amendment and restatement of our 1992 Plan. The changes to the 1992 Plan include an increase in the number of shares of common stock authorized for issuance under the 1992 Plan from 24,000,000 shares to 31,000,000 shares (an increase of 7,000,000 shares), the addition of Incentive Options and Cash Awards to the types of awards that may be granted, revisions to the share counting provisions, the addition of performance-based compensation criteria, and updates of certain other plan provisions. Our Board unanimously approved this amendment and restatement on March 17, 2011, subject to stockholder approval at our annual meeting. Capitalized terms not otherwise defined in this proposal have the meanings ascribed to them in the 1992 Plan.
 
 
Our Board recommends approval of the amendment and restatement of the 1992 Plan. The proposed increase in the number of shares authorized for issuance under the 1992 Plan would enable the continued use of the 1992 Plan for stock-based grants consistent with the objectives of our compensation program in order to:
 
  •  promote the long-term success of the Company;
 
  •  continue to attract and retain high quality talent;
 
  •  motivate key employees by instilling a sense of business ownership in the Company;


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  •  provide incentive compensation opportunities that are competitive with those of our compensation peer group; and
 
  •  further align the interests of our stockholders, executive officers and employees.
 
We believe that the success of our compensation program, including the use of stock-based grants under our 1992 Plan, is well-evidenced by the performance of our common stock over the last several years, as we ranked first among our peer group in total shareholder return for the five-year period 2006 through 2010 at 123%. Total shareholder return represents the change in capital value of our common stock for the period indicated, plus dividends, expressed as a percentage.
 
The use of stock-based grants under our 1992 Plan continues to be an important part of our compensation program. Of the 24,000,000 shares currently authorized for issuance under the 1992 Plan, 2,132,845 shares remain as of March 8, 2011 after February 1, 2011 grants totaling 1,323,985 shares. We do not believe that this leaves sufficient shares available for more than one additional year of grants under the 1992 Plan. By increasing the number of shares authorized for issuance under the 1992 Plan by 7,000,000, a total of 31,000,000 shares would be available. This increase would give us the flexibility to continue to make stock-based grants over the next four years in amounts determined appropriate by our Compensation Committee.
 
In addition to the increase in the number of shares authorized for issuance, the proposed amendment and restatement would modify certain 1992 Plan provisions to:
 
  •  provide a “fungible ratio” to be applied to share counting to determine the number of stock options versus shares of restricted stock that may be subject to grant;
 
  •  provide for the grant of incentive stock options and cash awards;
 
  •  clarify that (i) shares tendered by a plan participant to pay the exercise price of an award or to satisfy tax withholding obligations are not available for future grant under the plan and (ii) SARs that are stock-settled are counted against the plan on a full share (rather than net share) basis;
 
  •  prohibit the Company from making a cash buyout of “underwater” stock options without stockholder approval;
 
  •  establish performance-based criteria that may be applied to future awards of Restricted Stock or Cash Awards in order that such awards would qualify for exemption from the deduction limitations imposed by Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code; and
 
  •  change the methodology by which “Fair Market Value” is determined with respect to the pricing of stock options to match the methodology provided in the Noble Energy, Inc. 2005 Stock Plan for Non-Employee Directors.
 
The proposed amendment and restatement will not be implemented unless approved by our stockholders. If the proposed amendment and restatement is not approved by our stockholders, the 1992 Plan will remain in effect in its present form.
 
As of the record date of March 8, 2011, there were a total of 176,276,634 shares of our common stock issued and outstanding. In addition to the shares remaining available for issuance under the 1992 Plan, there were 504,841 shares available for grant under the 2005 Stock Plan for Non-Employee Directors of Noble Energy, Inc. The Company had a total of 6,927,128 stock options outstanding with a weighted average exercise price of $58.32 and a weighted average remaining term of 6.81 years, and 1,023,455 shares of restricted stock outstanding as of the record date.
 
The following is a summary of the principal features of our 1992 Plan as amended by the proposed plan restatement. The summary does not purport to be a complete description of all provisions of our 1992 Plan and is qualified in its entirety by the text of the 1992 Plan, a copy of which (as amended to reflect the proposed plan amendment and restatement) is attached to this Proxy Statement as Appendix A.


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Under our 1992 Plan, shares of Common Stock may be subject to grants of Nonqualified Options, Incentive Options, SARs, or awards of Restricted Stock to officers and other employees of the Company or one of its Affiliates. Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options, and any SARs related thereto, may be granted, and Restricted Stock may be awarded, until the shares of Common Stock available under the 1992 Plan have been exhausted or the 1992 Plan has been terminated (or, if earlier, with respect to Incentive Options until March 17, 2021, the 10th anniversary of the date the amended and restated 1992 Plan was approved by our Board). Cash Awards also may be granted under the 1992 Plan to officers and other employees of the Company or one of its Affiliates.
 
Shares Subject to 1992 Plan
 
The total number of shares of Common Stock available for grants or awards made under the 1992 Plan may not exceed a maximum of 31,000,000 shares in the aggregate. The total number of shares of Common Stock that may be issued on or after April 26, 2011 pursuant to Incentive Options shall not exceed a maximum of 7,000,000 shares of Common Stock in the aggregate. For the purpose of determining the number of shares of Common Stock available for grants or awards made under the 1992 Plan prior to April 26, 2011, each share subject to a Nonqualified Option (whether with or without a related SAR), and each share awarded as Restricted Stock, shall count against the plan share limit as one share, and with respect to grants or awards made under the 1992 Plan on or after April 26, 2011, each share subject to an Incentive Option or a Nonqualified Option (whether with or without a related SAR) shall count against the plan share limit as one share, and each share of Common Stock awarded as Restricted Stock shall count against the plan share limit as 2.39 shares. The total number of shares of Common Stock for which Incentive Options and Nonqualified Options and SARs may be granted, and which may be awarded as Restricted Stock, to any one person during any calendar year shall not exceed a maximum of 400,000 shares of Common Stock in the aggregate.
 
Shares of Common Stock covered by a Nonqualified Option or an Incentive Option that expires or terminates prior to exercise and shares of Restricted Stock returned to the Company upon forfeiture are again available for grant. Shares of Common Stock tendered or withheld to satisfy an exercise price or tax withholding obligation pertaining to an Incentive Option, Nonqualified Option, SAR or Restricted Stock shall not be available for grants or awards made under the 1992 Plan and shall not be added to the number of shares of Common Stock available for such grants or awards. Our 1992 Plan contains anti-dilution provisions that apply in the event of an increase or decrease in the number of outstanding shares of Common Stock, effected without receipt of consideration therefor by the Company, through a stock dividend or through a stock split, combination or exchange of our shares that results from a recapitalization, merger or other restructuring in which the Company is the surviving company. In the event of such increase or decrease, appropriate adjustments will be made in the maximum number of shares subject to the 1992 Plan and the number of shares and option prices under then outstanding Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options.
 
 
Our 1992 Plan provides that it is to be administered by a committee of our Board. The committee must consist of two or more of our directors, all of whom must be (1) Non-Employee Directors as defined in Rule 16b-3 of the Exchange Act and (2) Outside Directors as defined in Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code, and the regulations promulgated thereunder. Our Compensation Committee meets these requirements and administers our 1992 Plan. In doing so, our Compensation Committee determines the grants of Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options, awards of Restricted Stock, and Cash Awards, the terms and provisions of the respective agreements covering the grants or awards and all other decisions concerning the 1992 Plan. Our 1992 Plan provides that the determination of the committee is binding with respect to all questions of interpretation and application of the 1992 Plan and of Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options granted and awards of Restricted Stock and Cash Awards made thereunder, subject to the express provisions of the 1992 Plan and except as set forth below under “Stock Options and SARs” and “Amendment and Duration of the 1992 Plan.”


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All of our regular salaried executive officers and other employees and those of our Affiliates are eligible to participate in the 1992 Plan. As of March 8, 2011, all of our executive officers and approximately 570 other current employees participate in the 1992 Plan.
 
 
On March 8, 2011, the reported closing price per share of our Common Stock on the NYSE was $91.03.
 
 
Our 1992 Plan provides that, from time to time during the term of the plan, the committee, in its sole discretion, may grant Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options, or any combination thereof to any employee eligible under the 1992 Plan. Each person who accepts a Nonqualified Option or Incentive Option is required to enter into an agreement with the Company.
 
The committee may, from time to time, grant SARs in conjunction with all or any portion of a Nonqualified Option or Incentive Option either at the time of the initial Nonqualified Option or Incentive Option grant or, with respect to a Nonqualified Option, at any time after the initial grant while the Nonqualified Option is outstanding. SARs generally will be subject to the same terms and conditions and exercisable to the same extent as Nonqualified Options or Incentive Options, as described above. SARs entitle an Optionee to receive without payment to the Company (except for applicable withholding taxes) the excess of the aggregate fair market value per share with respect to which the SAR is then being exercised (determined as of the date of the exercise) over the aggregate purchase price of the shares as provided in the related Nonqualified Option or Incentive Option. Payment may be made in shares of already owned Common Stock or in cash, or a combination thereof, as determined by the committee.
 
 
The option price for each Share covered by a Nonqualified Option or an Incentive Option shall not be less than the greater of (1) the par value of the Share or (2) 100% of the Fair Market Value of the Share at the time the Nonqualified Option or Incentive Option is granted. For grants made on or after April 26, 2011, “Fair Market Value” will be the closing sales price per share of Common Stock on the NYSE on the date in question (or if there was no reported sale on the NYSE on such date, then on the last preceding day on which any reported sale occurred on the NYSE). Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, if, in connection with certain corporate transactions, the Company agrees to substitute a new option under the 1992 Plan for an old option, or to assume an old option, as provided for in the 1992 Plan, the option price of the Shares covered by each new option or assumed option will be determined by a formula that is designed to preserve the underlying value of the option at the time of the transaction, subject to limitations set forth in the 1992 Plan.
 
 
Our 1992 Plan provides that Restricted Stock may be awarded by the committee to the eligible recipients as it may determine from time to time. Restricted Stock is Common Stock that may not be sold, assigned, transferred, discounted, exchanged, pledged or otherwise encumbered or disposed of until the terms and conditions set by the committee, which terms and conditions may include, among other things, the achievement of specific goals, have been satisfied (“Restricted Period”). During the Restricted Period, unless specifically provided otherwise in accordance with the terms of the 1992 Plan, the recipient of Restricted Stock would be the record owner of the shares and have all the rights of a stockholder with respect to the shares, including the right to vote and the right to receive dividends or other distributions made or paid with respect to the shares.
 
Our 1992 Plan provides that the committee has the authority to cancel all or any portion of any outstanding restrictions prior to the end of the Restricted Period with respect to any and all of the shares of Restricted Stock awarded to an individual on the terms and conditions as the committee may deem appropriate. If the terms and


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conditions for the removal of the restrictions on the Restricted Stock that has been awarded to a recipient are not satisfied, the Restricted Stock is forfeited by the recipient and returned to the Company.
 
Cash Awards
 
Our 1992 Plan provides that Cash Awards may be awarded by the committee to the eligible recipients as it may determine from time to time, although the provisions for such awards do not replace, limit, modify or otherwise affect the Company’s ability to make payments or grants under its short-term incentive plan or any other compensation arrangements. A Cash Award provides for the payment of a cash bonus upon the achievement of specified performance goals. The committee will specify the terms, conditions, restrictions and limitations that apply to a Cash Award. The maximum amount that may be paid under all Cash Awards awarded to any one person under the 1992 plan during any one calendar year may not exceed $4,000,000.
 
Performance Awards
 
The Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options and SARs granted pursuant to the 1992 Plan are granted under terms that are designed to provide for the payment of qualified performance-based compensation (within the meaning of Treasury Regulation section 1.162-27(e)) (the “162(m) Requirements”) that is exempt from the deduction limitations imposed on the Company under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Restricted Stock and Cash Awards are not designed to be so exempt. However, at the time of awarding any Restricted Stock award or Cash Award, the committee may designate such an award to be a Performance Award that is intended to satisfy the 162(m) Requirements. In such case, the compensation payable under the award will be provided or paid solely on account of the attainment of one or more preestablished, objective performance goals during a specified performance period that is not shorter than one year, and will comply with the 162(m) Requirements.
 
Each agreement embodying a Performance Award will set forth (i) the maximum amount that may be earned thereunder in the form of cash or Shares, as applicable, (ii) the performance goal or goals and level of achievement applicable to such Performance Award, (iii) the performance period over which performance is to be measured, and (iv) such other terms and conditions as the committee may determine that are not inconsistent with the 1992 Plan or the 162(m) Requirements.
 
The performance goal or goals for a Performance Award will be established in writing by the committee based on one or more performance goals listed below not later than 90 days after commencement of the performance period with respect to such award, provided that the outcome of the performance in respect of the goal or goals remains substantially uncertain as of such time. At the time of the award of a Performance Award, and to the extent permitted under applicable tax rules, the committee may provide for the manner in which the performance goals will be measured in light of specified corporate transactions, extraordinary events, accounting changes and other similar occurrences.
 
The performance goal or goals to be used for the purposes of Performance Awards may be described in terms of objectives that are related to the particular eligible employee to whom the award is being made, or objectives that are Company-wide or related to a subsidiary, division, department, region, function or business unit of the Company in which such person is employed or with respect to which such person performs services, and may consist of one or more or any combination of the following criteria: (a) an amount or level of earnings or cash flow; (b) earnings or cash flow per share (whether on a pre-tax, after-tax, operational or other basis); (c) return on equity or assets; (d) return on capital or invested capital and other related financial measures; (e) cash flow or EBITDA; (f) revenues; (g) income, net income or operating income; (h) expenses or costs or expense levels or cost levels (absolute or per unit); (i) proceeds of sale or other disposition; (j) share price; (k) total shareholder return; (l) operating profit; (m) profit margin, (n) capital expenditures, (o) net borrowing, debt leverage levels, credit quality or debt ratings; (p) the accomplishment of mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, or similar business transactions; (q) net asset value per share; (r) economic value added; (s) individual business objectives; (t) growth in reserves or production; (u) finding and development costs and/or (v) safety results. The performance goals based on these performance measures may be made relative to the performance of peers or other business entities.
 
Prior to the payment of any compensation pursuant to a Performance Award, the committee must certify in writing that the applicable performance goal or goals and other material terms of the award have been satisfied. The


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committee will have the authority to reduce, but not to increase, the amount payable in cash and the number of Shares to be issued, retained or vested pursuant to a Performance Award.
 
 
The Board may at any time amend, suspend or terminate our 1992 Plan; provided, however, the Board may not, without the approval of the stockholders of the Company, amend the 1992 Plan so as to (1) increase the maximum number of shares subject thereto, (2) reduce the option price per share covered by Options granted under the 1992 Plan below the price specified in the 1992 Plan, or (3) permit the “repricing” of Options and any SARs that relate to such new Options, or permit the cancellation of “underwater” Options and any SARs that relate to such Options in return for cash or other consideration. Additionally, the Board may not, without the consent of the holder thereof, amend or cancel any outstanding award in a manner that adversely affects the holder thereof in a material way.
 
 
The following summary is based upon an analysis of the Internal Revenue Code, existing laws, judicial decisions, administrative rulings, regulations and proposed regulations, all of which are subject to change. Moreover, the following is only a summary of United States federal income tax consequences and the consequences may be either more or less favorable than those described below depending on an employee’s particular circumstances.
 
As required by United States Treasury Regulations, this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under United States federal tax laws.
 
Nonqualified Options.  No income will be recognized by an Optionee for federal income tax purposes upon the grant of a Nonqualified Option. Upon exercise of a Nonqualified Option, the Optionee will recognize ordinary income in an amount equal to the excess of the fair market value of the shares on the date of exercise over the amount paid for such shares and, subject to applicable deduction limitations, the Company will be entitled to a deduction equal to the ordinary income recognized by the Optionee.
 
The basis of shares transferred to an Optionee pursuant to the exercise of a Nonqualified Option is the price paid for the shares plus an amount equal to any income recognized by the Optionee as a result of the exercise of the option. If an Optionee thereafter sells shares acquired upon exercise of a Nonqualified Option, any amount realized over the basis of the shares will constitute capital gain to the Optionee for federal income tax purposes.
 
If an Optionee uses already-owned shares of Common Stock to pay the exercise price for shares under a Nonqualified Option, the number of shares received pursuant to the Nonqualified Option which is equal to the number of shares delivered in payment of the exercise price will be considered received in a nontaxable exchange, and the fair market value of the remaining shares received by the Optionee upon the exercise will be taxable to the Optionee as ordinary income. If the already-owned shares of Common Stock are not “statutory option stock” (as defined in Section 424(c)(3)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code) or are statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period referred to in Section 424(c)(3)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code has been satisfied, the shares received pursuant to the exercise of the Nonqualified Option will not be statutory option stock and the Optionee’s basis in the number of shares received in exchange for the stock delivered in payment of the exercise price will be equal to the basis of the shares delivered in payment. The basis of the remaining shares received upon the exercise will be equal to the fair market value of the shares on the date of exercise. However, if the already-owned shares of Common Stock are statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period has not been satisfied, it is likely, although not presently clear under applicable guidance, that such exercise will be considered a disqualifying disposition of the statutory option stock. Applicable guidance is also not clear with regard to whether the shares received upon the exercise will be statutory option stock, or how the Optionee’s basis will be allocated among the shares received.
 
The ordinary income recognized by an Optionee upon the exercise of a Nonqualified Option is compensation subject to withholding for federal income tax purposes, and the Company must make arrangements with the Optionee to ensure that the amount of the tax required to be withheld by the Company is paid to the Internal Revenue


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Service for the benefit of the Optionee. This tax withholding obligation may be satisfied by an Optionee at the time of the exercise of a Nonqualified Option by paying cash to the Company or by transferring already-owned shares of Common Stock to the Company. If an Optionee transfers already-owned shares of Common Stock to the Company in order to satisfy the Company’s tax withholding obligation, the transfer of such shares will be a taxable event. If the already-owned shares of Common Stock are not statutory option stock or are statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period has been satisfied, the amount by which the consideration received by the Optionee (i.e., the amount of the Optionee’s tax withholding that is satisfied by the transfer, plus any cash paid by the Company to the Optionee in lieu of a fractional share) exceeds the Optionee’s basis in the transferred stock will be a capital gain to the Optionee (or, if the consideration received is less than the Optionee’s basis, the difference will be a capital loss to the Optionee). If the already-owned shares of Common Stock are statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period has not been satisfied, the transfer of the shares will be a disqualifying disposition of statutory option stock.
 
Incentive Options.  No income will be recognized by an Optionee for federal income tax purposes upon the grant or the exercise of an Incentive Option; provided, however, that to the extent that an Incentive Option is exercised more than three months (twelve months in the event of disability within the meaning of Section 22(e)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code) from the date of termination of employment for any reason other than death, such Incentive Option will be taxed in the same manner described above for Nonqualified Options (rather than in the manner described herein for an Incentive Option). The basis of shares transferred to an Optionee pursuant to the exercise of an Incentive Option is the price paid for such shares. If the Optionee holds such shares for at least one year after transfer of the shares to the Optionee and two years after the grant of the option, the Optionee will recognize long- or short-term capital gain or loss (depending on the Optionee’s holding period with respect to the shares) upon sale of the shares received upon such exercise equal to the difference between the amount realized on such sale and the basis of the shares. Generally, if the shares are not held for that period (a “disqualifying disposition”) the Optionee will recognize ordinary income upon disposition in an amount equal to the excess of the fair market value of the purchased shares on the date of exercise over the option price of such shares, or if less (and if the disposition is a transaction in which loss, if sustained, will be recognized), the gain on disposition. Any additional gain realized by the Optionee upon such disposition will be a capital gain. The excess of the fair market value of shares received upon the exercise of an Incentive Option over the option price for the shares is an item of adjustment for the Optionee for purposes of the alternative minimum tax. Therefore, although no income is recognized upon exercise of an Incentive Option, an Optionee may be subject to alternative minimum tax as a result of the exercise. The Company is not entitled to a compensation deduction with respect to an Incentive Option unless a disqualifying disposition occurs.
 
If an Optionee uses already-owned shares of Common Stock to pay the exercise price for shares under an Incentive Option, the resulting tax consequences will depend upon whether the already-owned shares of common stock are “statutory option stock,” and, if so, whether the statutory option stock has been held by the Optionee for the applicable holding period referred to in Section 424(c)(3)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code. In general, “statutory option stock” (as defined in Section 424(c)(3)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code) is any stock acquired through the exercise of an incentive stock option or an option granted pursuant to an employee stock purchase plan, but not stock acquired through the exercise of a nonqualified stock option. If the stock is statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period has been satisfied, or if the stock is not statutory option stock, no income will be recognized by the Optionee upon the transfer of the stock in payment of the exercise price of an Incentive Option. If the stock used to pay the exercise price of an Incentive Option is statutory option stock with respect to which the applicable holding period has not been satisfied, the transfer of the stock will be a disqualifying disposition described in Section 421(b) of the Internal Revenue Code which will result in the recognition of ordinary income by the Optionee in an amount equal to the excess of the fair market value of the statutory option stock at the time the Incentive Option covering the stock was exercised over the amount paid for the stock.
 
SARs.  There will be no federal income tax consequences to either the recipient or the Company upon the grant of SARs. Generally, the recipient will recognize ordinary income subject to withholding upon the exercise of SARs in an amount equal to the amount of cash received and the fair market value of any shares acquired pursuant to the exercise. Subject to applicable deduction limitations, the Company will be entitled to a corresponding tax deduction equal to the amount includable in the recipient’s income.


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Restricted Stock.  If the restrictions on an award of Restricted Stock are of a nature that the shares are both subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture and are not freely transferable within the meaning of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code, the recipient will not recognize income for federal income tax purposes at the time of the award unless the recipient affirmatively elects to include the fair market value of the shares of restricted stock on the date of the award, less any amount paid therefor, in gross income for the year of the award pursuant to Section 83(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. In the absence of an election, the recipient will be required to include in income for federal income tax purposes in the year in which the shares either become freely transferable or are no longer subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture within the meaning of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code, the fair market value of the shares of restricted stock on that date, less any amount paid therefor. Subject to applicable deduction limitations, the Company will be entitled to a deduction at the time of income recognition to the recipient in an amount equal to the amount the recipient is required to include in income with respect to the shares, subject to the deduction limitations described below. If a Section 83(b) election is made within 30 days after the date the Restricted Stock is received, the recipient will recognize ordinary income at the time of receipt of the Restricted Stock and the Company will be entitled to a corresponding deduction equal to the fair market value (determined without regard to applicable restrictions) of the shares at the time less the amount paid, if any, by the recipient for the Restricted Stock. If a Section 83(b) election is made, no additional income will be recognized by the recipient upon the lapse of restrictions on the Restricted Stock, but, if the Restricted Stock is subsequently forfeited, no deduction will be allowed to the recipient with respect to the forfeiture. Dividends paid to a recipient holding Restricted Stock before the expiration of the restriction period will be additional compensation taxable as ordinary income to the recipient, unless the recipient made an election under Section 83(b) of the Internal Revenue Code. Subject to applicable deduction limitations, the Company will be entitled to a corresponding tax deduction equal to the dividends includable in the recipient’s income as compensation. If the recipient has made a Section 83(b) election, the dividends will be dividend income rather than additional compensation to the recipient.
 
If the restrictions on an award of Restricted Stock are not of a nature that the shares are both subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture and not freely transferable, within the meaning of Section 83 of the Internal Revenue Code, the recipient will recognize ordinary income for federal income tax purposes at the time of the award in an amount equal to the fair market value of the shares of Restricted Stock on the date of the award, less any amount paid therefor. Subject to applicable deduction limitations, the Company will be entitled to a deduction at that time in an amount equal to the amount the recipient is required to include in income with respect to the shares, subject to the deduction limitations described below.
 
Cash Awards.  An individual who receives a Cash Award will recognize ordinary income subject to withholding for federal income tax purposes at the time the cash is received (or, if earlier, the date the cash is made available to the individual). The Company will be entitled to a deduction for the amount of the Cash Award at such time, subject to applicable deduction limitations.
 
Limitations on the Company’s Compensation Deduction.  Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code limits the deduction that the Company may take for otherwise deductible compensation payable to certain officers of the Company to the extent that compensation paid to any such officer for the year exceeds $1,000,000, unless the compensation is performance-based. Compensation attributable to a stock option or stock appreciation right is deemed to satisfy the requirements for performance-based compensation if: (1) the grant or award is made by a compensation committee composed of two or more outside directors; (2) the plan under which the option or right is granted states the maximum number of shares with respect to which options or rights may be granted during a specified period to any employee; and (3) under the terms of the option or right, the amount of compensation the employee could receive is based solely on an increase in the value of the stock after the date of the grant or award. The 1992 Plan has been designed to enable awards of Nonqualified Options and Incentive Options and SARs granted by the committee to qualify as performance-based compensation for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code. In addition, awards of Restricted Stock and Cash Awards that are designated as and designed to satisfy the requirements for Performance Awards are intended to qualify as performance-based compensation for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code.
 
Section 280G of the Internal Revenue Code limits the deduction that the employer may take for otherwise deductible compensation payable to certain individuals if the compensation constitutes an “excess parachute payment.” Excess parachute payments arise from payments made to disqualified individuals that are in the nature of compensation


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and are contingent on changes in ownership or control of the employer or certain affiliates. Accelerated vesting or payment of awards under the 1992 Plan upon a change in ownership of control of the employer or its affiliates could result in excess parachute payments. In addition to the deduction limitation applicable, a disqualified individual receiving an excess parachute payment is subject to a 20 percent excise tax on the amount thereof.
 
Application of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code.  Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code imposes an additional 20% tax and interest on an individual receiving nonqualified deferred compensation under a plan that fails to satisfy certain requirements. For purposes of Section 409A, “nonqualified deferred compensation” includes equity-based incentive programs, including some stock options and stock appreciation rights. Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code does not apply to incentive stock options, or to nonqualified stock options or stock appreciation rights granted with an option price that is not less than fair market value if no deferral is provided beyond exercise, or to restricted stock. The Incentive Options, Nonqualified Options and SARs, and the Restricted Stock awarded pursuant to the 1992 Plan are designed to be exempt from the application of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code. The Cash Awards will be designed to comply with the requirements of Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code to the extent they are not exempt. However, if an award does not comply with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code and is not exempt, a participant may be subject to additional taxes.
 
Our Board unanimously recommends that stockholders vote “FOR” the approval of the proposed amendment and restatement of our 1992 Plan.
 
 
The following tabulation sets forth, as of March 8, 2011, the shares of common stock beneficially owned by each director, each named executive officer listed in the Summary Compensation Table included in this Proxy Statement, and all directors and named executive officers as a group.
 
                 
    Common Stock Beneficially Owned(1)
    Number of
  Percent of
Name
  Shares(2)(3)   Class
 
Director
               
Jeffrey L. Berenson
    47,819       *  
Michael A. Cawley
    58,646 (4)     *  
Edward F. Cox
    40,495 (5)     *  
Charles D. Davidson
    1,227,688 (6)     *  
Thomas J. Edelman
    2,099,636 (7)     1.2 %
Eric P. Grubman
    19,794       *  
Kirby L. Hedrick
    78,995       *  
Scott D. Urban
    30,753       *  
William T. Van Kleef
    82,995       *  
Named Executive Officer (excluding any director named above)
               
Rodney D. Cook
    160,458       *  
Susan M. Cunningham
    334,574       *  
Kenneth M. Fisher
    75,098       *  
David L. Stover
    385,677       *  
All directors and named executive officers as a group (13 persons)
    4,642,628       2.6 %
 
 
Represents less than one percent of outstanding shares of common stock.
 
(1) Unless otherwise indicated, all shares are directly held with sole voting and investment power.


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(2) Includes shares not outstanding but subject to options that are currently exercisable (or that will become exercisable on or before May 8, 2011), as follows: Mr. Berenson — 21,412 shares; Mr. Cawley — 48,422 shares; Mr. Cox — 18,212 shares; Mr. Davidson — 818,504 shares; Mr. Edelman — 29,412 shares; Mr. Grubman — 13,336 shares; Mr. Hedrick — 68,212 shares; Mr. Urban — 20,729 shares; Mr. Van Kleef — 29,412 shares; Mr. Cook — 109,859 shares; Ms. Cunningham — 280,136 shares; Mr. Fisher — 19,949 shares; and Mr. Stover — 278,528 shares.
 
(3) Includes restricted stock awards not currently vested, as follows: 1,200 shares held by each of Messrs. Berenson, Cawley, Cox, Edelman, Grubman, Hedrick, Urban, and Van Kleef; Mr. Cook — 24,814 shares; Ms. Cunningham — 32,701 shares; Mr. Davidson — 97,694 shares; Mr. Fisher — 48,328 shares; and Mr. Stover — 56,489 shares.
 
(4) Mr. Cawley is one of 12 trustees of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. The Foundation holds of record 1,047,166 shares of our common stock. As with other corporate action, the voting of the shares held by the Foundation requires a majority vote of its trustees at a meeting at which a quorum of trustees is present. Where there are more than three trustees of a company and a majority vote is required for corporate action, no individual trustee is deemed to have beneficial ownership of securities held by such company. Accordingly, the 1,047,166 shares held of record by the Foundation are not reflected in Mr. Cawley’s beneficial ownership of common stock.
 
(5) Includes 12,000 shares held by spouse.
 
(6) Includes shares indirectly held in a qualified 401(k) Plan, as follows: Mr. Davidson — 3,243 shares.
 
(7) Includes 1,000,000 shares held under deferred compensation plans.
 
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
 
 
The first part of our Compensation Discussion and Analysis, entitled Compensation Considerations in the Current Environment, discusses how our executive compensation program operates in the current business environment. The second part, entitled Overview of Our Executive Compensation Program, discusses the elements and provides an analysis of our executive compensation program. The third part includes a presentation of executive compensation in tabular form.
 
 
Our goal continues to be to link compensation strongly to performance through the use of financial incentives that are tied to the Company’s operational and financial performance. 2010 was a challenging year in the energy industry due to the continued recession and the April incident in which the deepwater Gulf of Mexico drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, engaged in drilling operations for another operator, sank after a blow-out and fire. Even with these challenges, we believe the Company had an excellent year. Production was very close to target under our short-term incentive plan, as adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures, discretionary cash flow was above target and reserve additions were at a record high, as were exploration resources added through discoveries. Highlighting our exploration success was the announcement at the end of the year of another major discovery offshore Israel at our Leviathan prospect. Our 2010 safety performance was among our best over the past ten years. Also in 2010, we maintained a competitive cost structure although unit costs were not as low, relative to peers, as in previous years. Major initiatives were achieved including the sanction of the Tamar and Alen projects, the closing of our Petro-Canada acquisition and the sale of our non-core Mid-continent assets. While the Deepwater Horizon incident was a setback for our Gulf of Mexico program, we believe that our organization’s response to the issues arising from that incident was outstanding.


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As described in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, our fiscal 2010 financial results were strong relative to our fiscal 2009 results. The following table highlights the year-over-year comparison of some of our key financial metrics:
 
             
      Fiscal Year 2010     Fiscal Year 2009
Net income (loss)
    $725 million     $(131) million
             
Net gain on asset sales
    $113 million     $22 million
             
Asset impairment charges
    $144 million     $604 million
             
Diluted earnings (loss) per share
    $4.10     $(0.75)
             
Cash flows provided by operating activities
    $1.9 billion     $1.5 billion
             
Capital spending by operating activities
    $2.3 billion(1)     $1.3 billion
             
Cash and cash equivalents balance at Dec. 31
    $1.1 billion     $1.0 billion
             
Total liquidity
    $2.8 billion     $2.7 billion
             
Debt-to-book capital at Dec. 31
    25%     25%
 
 
(1) Includes $458 million for the acquisition of additional Central DJ Basin assets.
 
Our fiscal 2010 financial performance, including our performance relative to our peers, along with the individual performance of our executive officers, served as key factors in determining compensation for 2010, including:
 
  •  While executive officer salaries were unchanged in 2009 compared to 2008, in 2010 our Compensation Committee decided to increase the base salaries of our named executive officers by an average of 5.4%, taking into account the results of data provided by our compensation consultant and each executive’s scope of responsibilities.
 
  •  Production, controllable unit costs and discretionary cash flow are the performance measures for the non-discretionary component of our short-term incentive plan. These metrics provide for a balanced approach to measuring annual Company performance. The Company’s performance with respect to each of these metrics, along with other performance-based measures described below, resulted in the payment of annual cash incentive awards at above-target levels for our named executive officers.
 
  •  Long-term incentive compensation continues to constitute a substantial portion of the compensation for each of our named executive officers, comprised of equity awards of stock options and restricted stock.
 
Changes were made to our compensation program for 2010 to build upon the Company’s compensation governance framework, including:
 
  •  The Compensation Committee’s engagement of, and increased presence at regular committee meetings by, an independent compensation consultant that does not provide any services to our management.
 
  •  The appointment of Thomas J. Edelman, an additional independent director with executive management and compensation experience, to our Compensation Committee.
 
We recently changed our compensation program to further align the interests of our named executive officers with our stockholders’ interests, including:
 
  •  On January 25, 2011, our Board adopted stock ownership guidelines for our officers and non-employee directors.
 
  •  Effective February 1, 2011, amendments were made to the change of control arrangements for our named executive officers and other officers and employees of the Company for the purpose of eliminating tax gross-up payment obligations of the Company to those individuals.


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We encourage you to read this Compensation Discussion and Analysis for a detailed discussion and analysis of our executive compensation program, including information about 2010 compensation of our named executive officers.
 
 
Our executive compensation program is overseen by our Compensation Committee, with input from our management and outside compensation consultants.
 
 
 
The purpose of our Compensation Committee is set out in detail in the committee’s charter but generally is to:
 
  •  review and approve our goals and objectives relating to CEO compensation, evaluating our CEO’s performance based on those goals and objectives and determining and approving our CEO’s compensation level based on that evaluation;
 
  •  make recommendations to our Board with respect to non-CEO executive officer compensation; and
 
  •  produce an annual report on executive compensation as required by the SEC to be included, or incorporated by reference, in our proxy statement or other applicable SEC filings.
 
The committee also serves an important role in setting the overall compensation philosophy, goals and objectives of the Company.
 
Our Board has delegated authority to our Compensation Committee to determine and approve (1) our compensation philosophy, (2) the compensation of our non-CEO executive officers, and (3) equity-based compensation applicable to non-executive-officer employees.
 
 
Our Board appoints our Compensation Committee members and Chair, and these appointees continue to be members until their successors are elected and qualified or until their earlier resignation or removal. Any member of our Compensation Committee may be removed, with or without cause, by our Board. Our Governance Committee, after consultation with our Lead Independent Director, makes recommendations to our Board with respect to the appointment of Board members to all of its committees considering, in the case of our Compensation Committee, criteria such as experience in compensation matters, familiarity with our management and other key personnel, understanding of public company compensation issues, time availability necessary to fulfill committee responsibilities and independence and other regulatory requirements. No member of our Compensation Committee participates in any of our employee compensation programs, and our Board has determined that none of our Compensation Committee members has any material business relationship with us.
 
 
We believe that these membership criteria are met by Kirby L. Hedrick, Jeffrey L. Berenson, Edward F. Cox and Thomas J. Edelman, who currently serve on our Compensation Committee and did so throughout 2010 (with the exception of Mr. Edelman, who was appointed to the committee on April 27, 2010). Each has been determined by our Board to meet the NYSE standards for independence, to be a “Non-Employee Director” as defined in Rule 16b-3 under the Exchange Act, and to be an “outside director” as defined for purposes of Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code.
 
 
Our Compensation Committee’s meeting schedule is determined annually and meeting agendas are based on an annual calendar of recurring agenda items approved by the committee. The meeting agendas may include additional items as determined by the committee in its discretion, and the committee may also hold special


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meetings. Committee meeting agendas are reviewed by our Lead Independent Director and approved by the committee Chair. Our Compensation Committee held eight meetings during 2010.
 
 
In an effort to minimize the need for special meetings of our Compensation Committee to address routine compensation matters involving non-executive-officer employees, the committee has delegated limited authority to our CEO to (1) grant stock options and restricted stock to new hires for employment inducement purposes, (2) approve cash retention payments, and (3) make adjustments related to change of control severance plan participation resulting from organizational changes affecting employees not participating in the Change of Control Severance Plan for Executives. Actions taken by our CEO under these delegations are required to be reported to our Compensation Committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting and the committee reviews the appropriateness of the delegation on an annual basis.
 
 
Our CEO and our Vice President — Human Resources generally attend Compensation Committee meetings and provide input to the committee with respect to executive compensation, key job responsibilities, performance objectives and compensation trends. They also coordinate with our compensation consultant to ensure that committee requests regarding executive compensation matters are addressed. We believe that our CEO and Vice President — Human Resources are best qualified to support the committee in these areas given their understanding of our business and personnel, compensation program and competitive environment. In this supporting role they may provide information and recommendations relevant to establishing performance measures, weightings, targets, and similar items that affect compensation. Our CEO is closely involved in assessing the performance of our executive officers and advising our Compensation Committee in that regard, and may request that our Compensation Committee schedule special meetings to address executive compensation matters. Our CEO and Vice President — Human Resources may also communicate directly with our compensation consultant in this supporting role. Our Compensation Committee is not obligated to accept our management’s recommendations with respect to executive compensation matters, and meets in executive session to discuss such matters outside of the presence of our management. During 2010, the committee held four executive sessions.
 
 
Our Compensation Committee may retain, at our expense, independent compensation consultants it deems advisable to assist it in executive compensation matters. The committee meets with the compensation consultants, with and outside the presence of our management, to review findings based on market research regarding executive compensation and considers those findings in determining and making adjustments to our executive compensation program.
 
Following the merger of our prior compensation consultant, Towers Perrin, with Watson Wyatt in late 2009, we reassessed our compensation consultant needs and evaluated potential candidates. Based on that evaluation, the committee retained consultants from Hewitt Associates LLC (“Hewitt”) as independent advisors on executive compensation. The Committee’s engagement transitioned to Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC (“Meridian”) in October 2010 upon Meridian’s separation from Hewitt. In making this decision, the committee considered the consultants’ experience, familiarity with our executive compensation program and the compensation programs of our peer companies and sector, range of compensation services, absence of any business or personal relationship with any member of our Compensation Committee and policies and procedures designed to avoid potential conflicts of interest arising out of the provision of services with respect to the Company. In 2010, the compensation consultants were responsible for reviewing our executive compensation program and providing comparative market data on compensation practices and programs based on an analysis of our peer companies and other factors. They also provided compensation consulting services to our Governance Committee in 2010 in reviewing our non-employee directors’ fees and equity compensation awards. A breakdown of fees paid to our compensation consultants for fiscal year 2010 is set out below.


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2010
   
%
Executive Compensation Fees(1)
    $ 125,270         86  
Director Compensation Fees(2)
      20,300         14  
Total(3)
    $ 145,570         100.0  
                     
 
(1) Services rendered in 2010 include evaluating executive officer total compensation, including base salary, short- and long-term incentive compensation and post-employment compensation, and addressing peer group comparisons and trends.
 
(2) Services rendered in 2010 include evaluating non-employee director total compensation, including annual retainer and committee fees and equity grants of stock options and restricted stock, and addressing peer group comparisons and trends.
 
(3) Includes $78,158 paid to Hewitt and $67,412 paid to Meridian.
 
 
 
When making compensation decisions, we also look at the compensation of our CEO and other executive officers relative to that paid to similarly-situated executives at companies that we consider to be our peers — this is often referred to as “benchmarking.” We consider benchmarking data in determining executive officer base salary, our short-term incentive plan target bonus percentage factors, equity grant levels and the overall structure of our compensation program. We believe, however, that a benchmark should be just that — a point of reference for measurement — but not the determinative factor for our executives’ compensation. Because comparative compensation information is just one of the several analytic tools that are used in setting executive compensation, our Compensation Committee has discretion in determining the nature and extent of its use. Further, given the limitations associated with comparative pay information for setting individual executive compensation, the committee may decide to not use comparative compensation information at all in the course of making compensation decisions.
 
Our Compensation Committee maintains a compensation peer group of companies, which consists of larger and smaller publicly traded oil and gas exploration and production companies that have similar operating and financial characteristics. With the assistance of our CEO and our compensation consultant, as appropriate, our Compensation Committee reviews the composition of the peer group annually to ensure that companies remain relevant for comparative purposes. After review in January 2010, our Compensation Committee removed XTO Energy Inc. from that list given its then-pending merger with ExxonMobil Corporation, but added Talisman Energy Inc., a Canadian company with dual listing on the NYSE and a balance of U.S. and international projects similar in size and scope to our operations. After review in January 2011, our Compensation Committee decided to retain the same compensation peer group, which consists of the following companies:
 
     
•   Anadarko Petroleum Corp. 
 
•   Newfield Exploration Company
•   Apache Corp. 
  •   Noble Energy, Inc.
•   Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation
  •   Pioneer Natural Resources Company
•   Chesapeake Energy Corp. 
  •   Plains Exploration and Production Company
•   Devon Energy Corp. 
  •   Range Resources Corporation
•   EOG Resources, Inc. 
  •   Southwestern Energy Company
•   Forest Oil Corp. 
  •   Talisman Energy Inc.
•   Murphy Oil Corp.
   
 
We believe that this group of companies continues to be representative of the sector in which we operate, and includes companies of similar market size and geographic scope of operations, nature and relative complexity of business and roles and responsibilities of executive officers.


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When making executive compensation decisions, our Compensation Committee analyzes total compensation with a focus on base salary, short-term incentive plan and long-term incentive plan elements. To facilitate this analysis, our CEO and Vice President — Human Resources work with our compensation consultant to provide the committee comparative compensation information in these areas for each executive officer, along with summary information on post-employment compensation trends, benefits and other relevant factors. This information is compiled in written report format and includes recent publicly available information and other market data, as well as tally sheets detailing the base salary, short-term incentive plan and long-term incentive plan elements. We believe that this information provides our Compensation Committee with a sufficient basis to evaluate executive officer compensation by presenting a comprehensive review of compensation data on each executive officer and the opportunity for related discussion with our compensation consultant.
 
While comparisons to compensation levels at companies in our compensation peer group are helpful in assessing the overall competitiveness of our executive compensation program, we believe that our program must also be internally consistent and equitable. In its review of total compensation, our Compensation Committee considers the relationship between our CEO’s total compensation and that of our other executive officers. The committee has not adopted a formal policy regarding internal pay equity, but for 2010 concluded that CEO compensation was equitable compared to that of our President and Chief Operating Officer (“COO”) and other named executive officers in recognition of the CEO’s broad responsibility and accountability for the Company’s strategy and operations, compliance and controls, investor relations and role as Chairman of our Board. The 2010 total compensation of our COO was likewise found to be equitable compared to that of the next named executive officer in recognition of the COO’s broad responsibility for the Company’s worldwide exploration and production operations, our Compensation Committee’s views on that position relative to the other named executive officer positions and the fact that two of the other named executive officers report directly to the COO. Internal pay equity was also considered by our Compensation Committee with respect to the Company’s Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”). The Compensation Committee likewise concluded that the 2010 compensation of our other named executive officers was equitable in light of their respective roles, responsibilities and reporting relationships.
 
 
Our executive compensation program is designed to incentivize consistent, longer-term performance and achievement of strategic objectives in a manner that will:
 
  •  compensate employees for the value of their contributions;
 
  •  provide total compensation that is flexible enough to respond to changing market conditions and that also aligns compensation levels with performance; and
 
  •  provide total compensation that will attract, motivate and retain individuals of high quality and support a long-standing internal culture of loyalty and dedication to our interests.
 
We believe that linking executive compensation to Company performance is in the best interest of our stockholders and, as an individual’s level of responsibility increases, a greater portion of total compensation should be at risk and the mix of total compensation should be weighted more heavily in favor of incentive-based compensation including equity-linked compensation. As performance goals are met or exceeded, resulting in increased value to stockholders, our executive officers should be rewarded commensurately. Our Compensation Committee believes that our 2010 executive compensation program achieved these objectives.
 
Elements of Our Executive Compensation Program
 
Our executive compensation program consists of four principal elements: base salary; a short-term incentive plan; a long-term incentive plan; and post-employment compensation. The following is a discussion of each of these elements and their respective roles in our compensation program.


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Base salary provides a cash foundation for our total compensation program that helps us attract and retain individuals of high quality. Our Compensation Committee believes that base salaries for executive officers should be competitive with comparable positions in peer companies to allow us to attract and retain such individuals. The policy of our Compensation Committee generally is to establish base salary levels that approximate the market median. Competitive information is obtained through oil and gas industry compensation surveys and other analyses conducted by our compensation consultant. Our Compensation Committee analyzes this information and makes appropriate annual adjustments. Executive officer salaries were unchanged in 2009 compared to 2008. Taking into account the results of market data provided by our compensation consultant and each executive’s scope of responsibility, named executive officers’ base salaries were increased by an average of 5.4% effective November 1, 2010.
 
 
Our short-term incentive plan (“STIP”) is a performance-based annual incentive bonus plan that is payable in cash and available to all of our full-time employees, including executive officers. It provides a performance-based incentive beyond base salary that is designed to motivate performance and compensate employees for the value of their annual contributions. In addition, given its annual nature and discretionary component, the STIP has flexibility to respond to changing market conditions.
 
The target STIP bonus for an employee is the employee’s base salary at year-end multiplied by the percentage factor assigned to the employee’s salary classification. Target bonus percentage factors range from 6% to 100%, with factors of 100% for the CEO and from 75% to 90% for the other named executive officers, with the differences primarily attributable to each officer’s respective scope of responsibility within the Company. Payout under the plan may range from 0 to 2.5 times the aggregate target bonus pool for all employees.
 
In January of each year, our Compensation Committee approves annual STIP performance-based measures, including their relative weighting and specific targets, in addition to a discretionary component to be determined by the committee. The measures, weighting and targets are communicated to our executive officers at that time. The 2010 measures approved by our Compensation Committee on January 25, 2010 accounted for 36% of the STIP formula and consisted of quantitative targets for production, controllable unit costs and discretionary cash flow. For 2010, the Compensation Committee decided to exclude reserve additions from the STIP formula and instead consider them as part of the discretionary STIP component in order to mitigate the risk of widely variable reserve bookings that could occur as a result of the Company’s sanction of, or failure to sanction, major projects in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Israel and West Africa.
 
Our Compensation Committee approves the target for each performance measure after considering prior year financial and operational results, the Board-approved budget, planned projects and capital spending plans for the upcoming year. Our Compensation Committee also considers that the achievement of those targets can be significantly affected by availability of labor and equipment, acquisitions and sales, weather, product demand and pricing, competition and other industry conditions that cannot be determined with certainty at the time the targets are set. For example, the Deepwater Horizon incident led to a drilling moratorium that stopped our deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. We believe that our targets are set aggressively in light of these variables and require achievement of significant performance.
 
The targets for the annual STIP performance measures may include certain adjustments that are not normally included in publicly reported results. For instance, the production target is significantly reduced from reported production by discounting gas volumes sold at a lower price in Equatorial Guinea. In addition, any significant acquisitions or divestitures are excluded when considering performance against the production and discretionary cash flow targets. Also, the discretionary cash flow target excludes deferred taxes. Including these adjustments, the targets for 2010 were 186.6 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day for production, the 50th percentile relative to our compensation peer group for controllable unit costs for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2010 and $1.67 billion in discretionary cash flow. The first two targets were weighted 14% each and the discretionary cash flow target was weighted 8%. The remaining 64% is the discretionary component determined by the Compensation Committee.


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Payout curves were approved for each measure at the time targets were set, ranging from a factor of 0 to 2.5, with a 1.0 factor at each target. The Company’s 2010 performance exceeded the targets for controllable unit costs and discretionary cash flow but fell slightly short of the target for production (as adjusted for acquisitions and divestitures). Our Compensation Committee reviewed information provided by management on actual performance for each measure as applied to the measure’s payout curve to determine the bonus factor for that measure. Each bonus factor was then multiplied by the weighting for its respective measure, with the sum of the three bonus factors, as adjusted for weighting, yielding the performance-based STIP component.
 
The discretionary component, which accounted for the remaining 64% of the 2010 STIP formula, was determined by our Compensation Committee based on the committee’s review of overall Company performance. While a specific target for reserves was not included in the formula portion of the STIP this year, reserve additions were at a record high and strongly considered in determining the discretionary part of the plan. We also considered other performance-based measures such as: exploration success, with record-high exploration resources added through discoveries; exceptional safety performance; and total shareholder return, which was 22% in fiscal 2010, compared to the returns of our peer compensation group. The Committee also took into account the Company’s financial controls, regulatory compliance, and the achievement of major initiatives, including the sanction of the Tamar and Alen projects, the organization’s response to the issues arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident, the closing of our PetroCanada acquisition and the sale of our non-core Mid-continent assets.
 
The sum of the performance-based and discretionary components was applied to the Company’s aggregate target bonus pool to determine our total bonus amount to be paid. This amount was then allocated between executive officers and other employees. In the case of executive officers, the committee considered the performance of the CEO as measured against operational and financial goals submitted by the CEO earlier in the year, as well as the CEO’s assessment of the performance of the other executive officers as measured against goals each submitted earlier in the year for his or her business unit or organization, and allocated the pool based on that assessment of individual performance and each executive officer’s respective target bonus percentage factor. A cash payout under the plan based on the Company’s 2010 performance occurred in February 2011.
 
The 2011 performance-based measures and specific targets were approved by our Compensation Committee on January 25, 2011 and communicated to our executive officers. Our Compensation Committee elected to retain the three performance-based measures used in 2010, each with the same weighting as 2010 but with different targets. These include production, controllable unit costs and discretionary cash flow. The performance measure for proved reserve additions was discontinued, but will be considered by the committee in determining the discretionary component which, for 2011, will remain at 64% of the STIP formula. We believe that the approved targets for 2011 will be appropriately difficult to achieve since they will be affected by many of the same challenges and uncertainties as described above. While those targets are disclosed above in the context of historical 2010 performance, we believe that the disclosure of 2011 targets would result in competitive harm to us and are therefore omitted since (1) we are engaged in a highly competitive business, (2) we may pursue opportunities in areas without first publicly disclosing our intention to do so and (3) disclosure of these targets might enable our competitors to determine our strategic areas of interest and priorities throughout the year. We also do not believe that the disclosure of 2011 targets is material to an understanding of our 2010 executive compensation program as covered by this Proxy Statement.
 
 
Our long-term incentive plan (“LTIP”) was approved by our Compensation Committee and adopted by our Board on January 27, 2004 and is primarily an equity-linked plan that is available to our executive officers and certain other key employees determined on an annual basis. It is designed to attract, motivate and retain individuals of high quality by:
 
  •  providing competitive long-term incentive compensation opportunities;
 
  •  rewarding outstanding achievement by those who can most directly affect our performance and instill a sense of business ownership; and


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  •  aligning the interests of our employees with those of our stockholders so as to maximize long-term stockholder value creation.
 
Our Compensation Committee may make grants or awards of stock options, restricted stock and performance units under our LTIP. Stock options and restricted stock are granted under our 1992 Plan, which was originally approved by our stockholders in 1992 and most recently amended in 2009. The following description of the 1992 Plan is subject to any changes that may result from stockholder approval of the plan amendment and restatement described in Proposal V of this Proxy Statement. The 1992 Plan permits the use of nonqualified stock options, with or without stock appreciation rights, and restricted stock. Pursuant to the 1992 Plan, stock options may be granted for a period of up to ten years at fair market value, as defined in the 1992 Plan, on the date of grant and upon such terms and conditions, consistent with the provisions of the plan, as are specified by our Compensation Committee at the time of grant. Restricted stock may be granted by our Compensation Committee subject to such terms and conditions as may be set by the committee.
 
In 2007 and 2008 our Compensation Committee made grants of stock options that vested ratably over a three-year period and restricted stock that vested at the end of the third year. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 our Compensation Committee made grants of stock options on the same terms but, in order to facilitate grant administration while encouraging retention consistent with our compensation program objectives, began making 1992 Plan grants of restricted stock that time-vest 20% on the first anniversary of the grant date, an additional 30% on the second anniversary of the grant date and the remaining 50% on the third anniversary of the grant date.
 
 
Stock options and shares of restricted stock are granted to our executive officers under our 1992 Plan. Our Compensation Committee approves all such grants, which are determined based on input from the CEO and market data provided by our compensation consultant. Grants for the CEO and other executive officers are approved by our Compensation Committee and discussed with our Board, outside the presence of the CEO and the other executive officers. In approving such grants, our Compensation Committee also assesses the reasonableness of grant levels considering the Company’s relative performance versus our compensation peer group over the past three years on measures such as total shareholder return, debt-adjusted per share production growth and reserve replacement, as well as executive officer total compensation and internal pay equity.
 
The regular Board and Compensation Committee meeting schedule for the upcoming year is set in April of the prior year, with regular Board meetings held in January, April, July, October and December. Our Compensation Committee meetings are usually held the day before each Board meeting. The timing of these meetings is not determined by executive officers and is usually in advance of the announcement of earnings. We do not time the release of material non-public information for the purpose of affecting the values of executive compensation. Our Compensation Committee may be aware of approximate earnings results at the time of making equity grant decisions, but it does not adjust the size or timing of grants to reflect possible market reaction.
 
Generally, annual stock option and restricted stock grants are approved at a January meeting of our Compensation Committee. Stock options and restricted stock are granted annually on February 1 (or the preceding business day if February 1 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday). It is our policy to make grants to executive officers and other employees at the same time. However, specific grants of stock options or restricted stock may be approved at other regular or special meetings to recognize the completion of a significant transaction, a change in an employee’s responsibility or a specific achievement, or as an inducement to, or for the retention of, employment. No special grants were made to executive officers in 2010. We communicate grants to executive officers and other employees shortly after the date of approval, in accordance with our customary human resource practices.
 
 
Stock option grants represent the right to purchase shares of our common stock over a period of up to ten years at fair market value, as defined in the 1992 Plan, on the date of grant and upon such terms and conditions, consistent with the provisions of the plan, as are specified by our Compensation Committee at the time of grant. The 1992 Plan currently defines “fair market value” for grant purposes as the average of the reported high and low trading price of our common stock on the NYSE on the date of grant (or if there was no reported sale on such date, on the last


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preceding date on which any reported sale occurred). We believe that this method of determining fair market value is neutral to the use of the closing price of our common stock and provides a valid representation of fair market value. Therefore, consistent with the terms of our 1992 Plan, we continued to grant stock options on this basis in 2010.
 
Stock Ownership Guidelines
 
We historically encouraged, but did not require, stock ownership by our executive officers and directors. We likewise did not require our executive officers and directors to hold a substantial portion of their equity awards until they retire from service. The rationale was that our executive officers have received periodic grants of shares of restricted stock and stock options under our 1992 Plan, consistent with the objectives of our executive compensation program, providing them with meaningful equity ownership in the Company and allowing them to demonstrate their commitment as stockholders in the Company. Our compensation and governance committees reevaluated this approach and, after discussion with our Board on January 25, 2011, our Board adopted stock ownership guidelines for our officers and non-employee directors. These guidelines are set out in our Corporate Governance Guidelines.
 
We believe that our stock ownership guidelines reinforce the alignment of the long-term interests of our executive officers, non-employee directors and stockholders. We also believe that they help discourage the taking of excessive business risks. Each officer is expected to own a number of our shares with a value that is a multiple of the officer’s current base salary and each non-employee director is expected to own a number of shares with a value that is a multiple of the director’s annual cash retainer, as follows:
 
       
Position     Multiple
Chief Executive Officer
    6X base salary
President
    3X base salary
Chief Financial Officer
    3X base salary
Other Senior Vice President
    2.5X base salary
Vice President
    2X base salary
Non-Employee Director
    5X annual cash retainer
       
 
These stock ownership guidelines also impose certain retention requirements on any officer or director who fails to maintain the prescribed level. All of our executive officers and outside directors are in compliance with the guidelines as of the date of this Proxy Statement.
 
 
Our Compensation Committee, with input from our other independent directors, evaluates Mr. Davidson’s performance, with that evaluation supporting the determination of Mr. Davidson’s compensation level. In addition to the financial results discussed above, other key 2010 results under Mr. Davidson’s leadership include:
 
Onshore United States
 
  •  a Central DJ Basin asset acquisition which enhanced our largest onshore US property in Wattenberg;
 
  •  an increase in our Central DJ Basin position to over 830,000 net acres;
 
  •  the drilling and completion of 21 horizontal wells in the Central DJ Basin Niobrara formation;
 
  •  an increase in Wattenberg production volumes to a record 54.2 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day; and
 
  •  the sale of certain Mid-continent and Illinois Basin assets for $552 million.
 
Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
 
  •  the successful adjustment of our Gulf of Mexico business plan in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident;


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  •  the well completion work at Isabela and Santa Cruz at the Galapagos project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico; and
 
  •  an award of 11 deepwater lease blocks from the Central Gulf of Mexico lease sale 213.
 
International
 
  •  the sanction of the development plan for the Tamar project, offshore Israel;
 
  •  the sanction of the development plan for the Alen project, offshore Equatorial Guinea;
 
  •  a major exploration discovery at Leviathan, offshore Israel;
 
  •  the completion of two new Mari-B wells, offshore Israel, maintaining field deliverability of 600 million cubic feet per day, gross; and
 
  •  the conclusion of field drilling and initiation of completions at Aseng, offshore Equatorial Guinea.
 
Mr. Davidson’s base salary as of January 1, 2010 was $1,025,000. Based on the results of our compensation consultant’s review of 2010 executive compensation, our Compensation Committee adjusted Mr. Davidson’s salary based on the market median for his position relative to our compensation peer group giving consideration to the scope of his responsibilities. Mr. Davidson received a 3.4% base salary increase to $1,060,000, effective November 1, 2010.
 
Mr. Davidson received a total STIP payment of $1,855,000 in February 2011, based on our Compensation Committee’s review of overall performance of the Company for 2010, as well as Mr. Davidson’s performance as measured against operational and financial goals for 2010 that he submitted earlier in the year. Mr. Davidson’s STIP payment for 2010 performance increased by 29.3% compared to 2009.
 
Mr. Davidson was granted awards under our 1992 Plan of 105,760 stock options and 43,281 shares of restricted stock on February 1, 2010, based in part on market data from our compensation consultant and considering our performance against our compensation peer group and Mr. Davidson’s leadership performance.
 
We believe that Mr. Davidson’s compensation level is consistent with the objectives of our compensation program, provides an appropriate mix of salary and incentive compensation, rewards leadership performance by Mr. Davidson that has produced some key results by the Company in 2010 and provides motivation for the future achievement of short- and long-term goals necessary to stockholder value creation. We also believe that it is internally consistent and equitable compared to our other executive officers in recognition of Mr. Davidson’s broad responsibility and accountability for the Company’s strategy and operations, compliance and controls, investor relations and role as Chairman of our Board.
 
 
In determining the compensation of Messrs. Fisher, Stover and Cook and Ms. Cunningham for 2010, our Compensation Committee considered their respective roles, responsibilities and reporting within the Company; their respective contributions to the overall performance of the Company; the performance of their respective business units or organizations; comparisons to our compensation peer group; and internal pay equity.
 
Based on the results of our compensation consultant’s review of 2010 executive compensation, each of our other named executive officers received an increase in base salary as our Compensation Committee determined that an increase was appropriate based on the median for their respective positions relative to our compensation peer group giving consideration to the scope of their respective responsibilities. Effective November 1, 2010, Mr. Fisher’s base salary was increased to $525,000, Mr. Stover’s base salary was increased to $625,000, Ms. Cunningham’s base salary was increased to $475,000, and Mr. Cook’s base salary was increased to $425,000.
 
After reviewing the overall performance of the Company for 2010 and the contributions to that performance of each non-CEO named executive officer and his or her respective business unit or organization, our Compensation Committee approved the following STIP payments: Mr. Fisher — $790,000; Mr. Stover — $1,200,000; Ms. Cunningham — $675,000; and Mr. Cook — $700,000. The STIP payments for 2010 performance for Mr. Fisher, Mr. Stover, Ms. Cunningham, and Mr. Cook increased approximately 39%, 59%, 38%, and 63%, respectively,


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compared to 2009. We believe that these STIP payments are appropriate in light of the Company’s performance in 2010 and reflect the relative contributions of these executive officers, including Mr. Fisher’s leadership within the Company’s financial organization; Mr. Stover’s role in the growth of our domestic and international businesses and the Company’s exceptional safety performance; Ms. Cunningham’s role in our exploration success with another major discovery offshore Israel at our Leviathan prospect; and Mr. Cook’s role in the progress made in our international development projects, including the sanctioning of the Tamar and Alen projects.
 
On January 29, 2010, our Compensation Committee approved the following stock option grants and restricted stock awards under our 1992 Plan for our other named executive officers:
 
                     
            Shares of
Named Executive Officer     Stock Options     Restricted Stock
Kenneth M. Fisher
      26,896         11,007  
                     
David L. Stover
      55,841         22,853  
                     
Susan M. Cunningham
      26,847         10,987  
                     
Rodney D. Cook
      20,797         8,511  
 
 
In determining the level of these grants, our Compensation Committee considered market data provided by our compensation consultant regarding our compensation program and appropriate long-term incentive grant levels in light of compensation peer group practices.
 
 
Our post-employment compensation is provided under qualified and nonqualified defined benefit plans, qualified and nonqualified defined contribution plans, and either individual change of control agreements or, alternatively, a change of control plan. Through its various components, our post-employment compensation facilitates our efforts to retain individuals of high quality and support a long-standing internal culture of loyalty and dedication to our interests.
 
 
Our qualified defined benefit plan (“Retirement Plan”) provides employees originally hired before May 1, 2006, which includes all of our named executive officers except Mr. Fisher, with retirement income benefits commencing upon retirement after attaining the normal retirement age of 65 or upon early or deferred vested retirement after attaining age 55 and completing 5 years of vesting service. Early retirement reductions apply if retirement benefits are commenced prior to age 65. The amount of an employee’s monthly Retirement Plan benefit will depend upon the employee’s final average monthly compensation, age and the number of his or her years of credited service (which is limited to a maximum of 30 years). Monthly Retirement Plan benefits commencing upon retirement after attaining the normal retirement age of 65 are calculated using the greater of the following two formulas:
 
       
Formula 1
   
Formula 2
1.25% × final average monthly
compensation × years of credited service (up to 30) + 0.50% × final average monthly compensation that exceeds Social Security covered compensation × years of credited service (up to 30)
    2% × final average monthly compensation × years of credited service (up to 20)
 
 
Final average monthly compensation generally means the employee’s average monthly compensation from the Company for the 60 consecutive months prior to retirement that results in the highest average monthly compensation for the employee. The compensation taken into account for Retirement Plan purposes includes the employee’s salary and STIP payment. The annual amount of compensation that can be taken into account for Retirement Plan purposes is limited by the Internal Revenue Code. This annual compensation limit is $245,000 for


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2010 and 2011. The maximum annual benefit that may be paid to an employee under our Retirement Plan is also limited by the Internal Revenue Code. This maximum annual benefit is $195,000 for 2010 and 2011.
 
Our Compensation Committee reviewed our Retirement Plan in 2006 and concluded that an enhanced defined contribution plan would be better aligned with our compensation program objectives because it would offer employees more investment choices, be portable and be more cost-effective to the Company. Accordingly, beginning on May 1, 2006, our Retirement Plan was closed to new participants and new employees became eligible to instead receive an enhanced Company contribution in the qualified defined contribution plan described below. Employees originally hired before May 1, 2006, which include all of our named executive officers except Mr. Fisher, continue to accrue benefits under the Retirement Plan.
 
We amended our Retirement Plan effective January 1, 2008 to allow existing plan participants to elect to receive a lump sum distribution upon separation from service. Lump sums are calculated using Internal Revenue Service mandated rates.
 
Nonqualified Defined Benefit Plan
 
Our nonqualified defined benefit plan (“Restoration Plan”) is an unfunded plan that provides the benefits under the Retirement Plan’s benefit formula that cannot be provided by the Retirement Plan because of the annual compensation and annual benefit limitations applicable to the Retirement Plan under the Internal Revenue Code. The amount of an employee’s monthly Restoration Plan benefit will depend upon the employee’s final average monthly compensation, age and the number of his or her years of credited service (which is limited to a maximum of 30 years). Existing plan participants were allowed to make a one-time election prior to January 1, 2008 to receive plan benefits in a lump sum payment upon separation from service, as permitted by the transition relief provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 409A. Restoration Plan benefits are calculated using the same methodology utilized for our Retirement Plan. Employees originally hired before May 1, 2006, which include all of our named executive officers except Mr. Fisher, continue to accrue benefits under the Restoration Plan.
 
 
Our qualified defined contribution plan (“Thrift Plan”) allows employees to make pre-tax contributions to the plan out of their basic compensation. For the purposes of the Thrift Plan, basic compensation generally means cash compensation, including overtime but excluding incentive payments, bonuses, allowances and other extraordinary remuneration. The amount of an employee’s basic compensation taken into account under the Thrift Plan cannot exceed the Internal Revenue Code limit, which is $245,000 for 2010 and 2011. The annual contribution made by an employee to the Thrift Plan cannot exceed 50% of his or her basic compensation and is limited to a maximum contribution amount specified under the Internal Revenue Code (which is $16,500 for 2010 and 2011, plus a catch-up contribution in each of those years of $5,500 for employees who are at least 50 years of age). An employee’s pre-tax contributions (other than catch-up contributions) made to the Thrift Plan are matched by the Company on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to 6% of the employee’s basic compensation. In addition, beginning in 2006, the Company makes the following age-weighted contribution to the Thrift Plan for each participant whose initial employment date with the Company is on or after May 1, 2006 (which does not include any of our named executive officers except Mr. Fisher) and who is employed by or on authorized leave of absence from the Company on the last day of the calendar year (or whose retirement, permanent disability or death occurred during such year while employed by or on authorized leave of absence from the Company):
 
                     
      Contribution Percentage
    Contribution Percentage
      for Portion of Basic
    for Portion of Basic
      Compensation Below
    Compensation Above
Age of Participant     the FICA Taxable Wage Base     the FICA Taxable Wage Base
Under 35
      4 %       8 %
At least 35 but under 48
      7 %       10 %
At least 48
      9 %       12 %
 
 
The contributions made to our Thrift Plan by or for a participant are credited to accounts maintained for such participant under the plan. The amounts credited to a participant’s accounts are invested at the direction of the participant in various investment fund options available under the Thrift Plan, including investment in shares of our


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common stock. The amounts credited to a participant’s accounts that are attributable to his or her pre-tax contributions are immediately 100% vested. Amounts attributable to the Company’s matching contributions become 34% vested upon the completion of one year of service, 67% vested upon the completion of two years of service, and 100% vested upon the completion of three years of service. The amounts attributable to the Company’s age-weighted contributions become vested after three years of service. The amounts credited to a participant’s accounts become distributable upon the participant’s termination of employment with the Company, and certain amounts are available for loans, hardship distributions and in-service withdrawals.
 
Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan
 
Our nonqualified deferred compensation plan (“Deferred Compensation Plan”) allows executive officers, and certain other employees, to save for retirement in a tax-effective way at minimal cost to us. Under the Deferred Compensation Plan, participants are allowed to defer portions of their salary and bonus and to receive certain matching and age-weighted contributions that would have been made to our Thrift Plan if the Thrift Plan had not been subject to Internal Revenue Code compensation and contribution limitations. Under this unfunded program, amounts deferred by the participant are credited annually with interest at a rate equal to the greater of 125% of the 120-month rolling average of 10-year U.S. Treasury Notes or the 120-month rolling average of the prime rate as published in The Wall Street Journal.
 
 
We have adopted change of control arrangements for our executive officers and certain other employees. These arrangements are intended to preserve morale and productivity and encourage retention in the face of the disruptive impact of an actual or rumored change of control of the Company. Based on information provided by our compensation consultant, we believe that these arrangements are common practice and align our executive officer interests with those of our stockholders by enabling our executive officers to consider corporate transactions that are in the best interest of stockholders without undue concern over whether the transactions may jeopardize their continued employment.
 
A change of control will be deemed to have occurred under our change of control arrangements if any of the following events occurs:
 
  •  individuals who constituted our Board on January 1, 2008 (or such other date as may be specified in individual change of control agreements) (“Incumbent Board”) cease to constitute at least 51% of the Board, provided that any individual whose election was approved by a vote of at least a majority of the directors of the Incumbent Board will be considered a member of the Incumbent Board;
 
  •  our stockholders approve a reorganization, merger or consolidation whereby the persons who were stockholders immediately prior to the reorganization, merger or consolidation do not immediately thereafter own at least 51% of the voting shares of the new entity;
 
  •  our stockholders approve a liquidation or dissolution of the Company or a sale of all or substantially all of our assets to a non-related party; or
 
  •  a new person or entity becomes the owner of at least 25% of our outstanding common stock or voting power in the Company.
 
We believe that these changes of control events are an accurate depiction of circumstances that could reasonably be expected to result in a material change in the leadership and direction of the Company, creating uncertainties among employees and executive officers in such areas as the continuity of management, continued employment opportunities, and our ability to execute existing programs.
 
All of our change of control arrangements include provisions regarding severance benefits that our executive officers and certain other employees may be entitled to receive if they are terminated within two years following a change of control of the Company. Under these arrangements, if a named executive officer is terminated for any reason (other than for cause, disability or death) within two years after a change of control, we will then pay or provide the following to that named executive officer:
 
  •  all unpaid salary and expenses;


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  •  a lump sum equal to a multiple of his or her annual cash compensation (made up of annual salary and bonus) ranging from 2.5 times to 2.99 times;
 
  •  an amount equal to his or her pro-rata target bonus for the then-current year;
 
  •  life, disability, medical and dental insurance benefits, upon his or her written request, ranging among named executive officers from 30 to 36 months or such shorter period until the executive obtains substantially equivalent coverage from a subsequent employer;
 
  •  the vesting of his or her stock options and restricted stock; and
 
  •  reimbursement for reasonable fees up to $15,000 for out-placement employment services.
 
If we terminate the named executive officer for cause, no benefit is payable to, or with respect to, that named executive officer under our change of control arrangements. A termination for cause may only be made by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of our Board.
 
Our change of control arrangements include a plan or, in the alternative, individual change of control agreements. Specifically, on October 24, 2006, our Board approved a Change of Control Severance Plan for Executives (“Executive Change of Control Plan”), which became effective on that date. The plan covers our executive officers and certain key employees, provided that they are not already party to pre-existing change of control agreements with us. All of our named executive officers, except Messrs. Fisher and Cook, are parties to pre-existing change of control agreements and therefore may not participate in the plan at this time. Messrs. Fisher and Cook currently participate in our Executive Change of Control Plan.
 
Our change of control arrangements previously provided for a tax gross-up payment to the named executive officer that would fully offset the effect of (1) any excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code upon the benefits payable under such arrangements (or under any other Company plan, arrangement or agreement), and (2) any federal, state or local income tax or additional Section 4999 excise tax that is attributable to the tax gross-up payment. Effective February 1, 2011, the tax gross-up provision was eliminated from all of our individual change of control agreements and our Executive Change of Control Plan (although the effectiveness of such elimination under the Executive Change of Control Plan is subject to a pre-existing delay provision contained in the plan if a change of control occurs before January 26, 2012).
 
 
Our Severance Benefit Plan (“Severance Benefit Plan”) is an unfunded plan that provides for severance benefits to eligible employees, including our executive officers, in certain instances based upon years of completed service. The severance benefits are comprised of:
 
  •  a cash payment of two weeks of base salary pay for every year of completed service, with a minimum of 12 weeks of pay and a maximum of 52 weeks of pay;
 
  •  a pro-rated STIP payment based on the number of months of employment during the calendar year of termination;
 
  •  six months of reduced-rate contributions under our medical and dental plans; and
 
  •  twelve weeks of coverage under our employee assistance plan.
 
Perquisites:  We do not consider perquisites to be a principal element of executive compensation. In 2010, certain of our executive officers received non-material personal benefits, such as club membership dues reimbursement and comprehensive physical examinations.
 
 
 
We offer a number of other benefits to our executive officers pursuant to benefit programs that provide for broad-based employee participation. These benefit programs include medical, dental and vision insurance, long-


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term disability (“LTD”) and short-term disability insurance, life and accidental death and dismemberment (“AD&D”) insurance, health and dependent care flexible spending accounts, relocation/expatriate programs and services, educational assistance, employee assistance and certain other benefits.
 
 
We have entered into an indemnification agreement with each of our non-employee directors and our executive officers. These agreements provide for us to indemnify such persons against certain liabilities that may arise by reason of their status or service as directors or executive officers and to advance their expenses incurred as a result of a proceeding as to which they may be indemnified. We also cover such persons under a directors’ and officers’ liability insurance policy that we choose, in our discretion, to maintain. These indemnification agreements are intended to provide indemnification rights to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law and are in addition to any other rights the individual may have under our Certificate of Incorporation, By-laws and applicable law. We believe these indemnification agreements enhance our ability to attract and retain knowledgeable and experienced executive officers and non-employee directors.
 
 
Under Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code, amounts deferred for an executive officer under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan may be included in gross income when vested and subject to a 20% or more additional federal tax, unless the plan complies with certain requirements related to the timing of deferral election and distribution decisions.
 
Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code may limit our ability to deduct annual compensation in excess of $1,000,000 that is paid to our CEO and other named executive officers, unless that compensation is “performance-based compensation” within the meaning of Section 162(m) and the regulations promulgated thereunder. We believe that all of the stock options granted under the 1992 Plan qualify as performance-based compensation and therefore are not subject to the deduction limitation of Section 162(m). However, the salary and STIP payouts paid to our executive officers, the time-vested restricted stock awards, and certain payments provided for under our change of control arrangements with the named executive officers are not exempt from this deduction limit.
 
Section 280G of the Internal Revenue Code limits our ability to deduct amounts paid to certain disqualified individuals, including our executive officers, that are treated as excess parachute payments. Excess parachute payments are also subject to an excise tax payable by the recipient of such payment. Parachute payments are payments that are contingent on a change in the ownership or effective control of the Company or in the ownership of a substantial portion of our assets, and they become excess parachute payments with respect to a disqualified individual to the extent that the total amount of the parachute payments made to such individual exceeds a certain threshold amount. Examples of the types of payments that could give rise to parachute payments are the accelerated vesting of stock options and restricted stock upon a change of control and severance payments made upon a termination of employment in connection with a change of control.
 
Although we consider tax deductibility in the design and administration of our executive compensation plans and program, we believe that there are circumstances where our interests are best served by maintaining flexibility in the way compensation is provided, even if it results in the non-deductibility of certain compensation under the Internal Revenue Code.
 
Rules under generally accepted accounting principles determine the manner in which we account in our financial statements for grants of equity-based compensation to our employees. Our accounting policies for equity-based compensation are further discussed in Notes 2 and 13 to our consolidated financial statements, included in our 2010 Annual Report on Form 10-K.


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The following report of the Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee of the Board of Directors shall not be deemed to be “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC or subject to the SEC’s proxy rules, except for the required disclosure in this Proxy Statement, or subject to the liabilities of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”), and the information shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing made by the Company under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Exchange Act.
 
The Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee has reviewed the Compensation Discussion and Analysis contained in this Proxy Statement and discussed this disclosure with management. Based on this review and discussions with management, the Compensation, Benefits and Stock Option Committee recommended to the Board of Directors that the Compensation Discussion and Analysis be included in this Proxy Statement and incorporated by reference in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2010 for filing with the SEC.
 
March 22, 2011
 
Compensation, Benefits and
Stock Option Committee
 
Kirby L. Hedrick, Chair
Jeffrey L. Berenson
Edward F. Cox
Thomas J. Edelman


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Summary Compensation Table
 
The following table sets forth certain summary information concerning the compensation earned by our CEO and CFO and each of our three most-highly compensated executive officers other than the CEO and CFO (collectively, the “named executive officers”) during 2008, 2009 and 2010.
 
                                                                                           
                                          Change in
           
                                          Pension Value
           
                                          and Non-
           
                                    Non-Equity
    Qualified
           
                        Stock
    Option
    Incentive Plan
    Deferred
    All Other
     
Name and
          Salary
          Awards
    Awards
    Compensation
    Compensation
    Compensation
    Total
Principal Position     Year     ($)(1)     Bonus($)     ($)(2)     ($)(3)     ($)(4)     Earnings($)(5)     ($)(6)     ($)
Charles D. Davidson
      2010       $ 1,012,644               $ 3,249,970       $ 2,650,346       $ 1,855,000       $ 1,494,043       $ 70,539       $ 10,332,542  
Chairman and Chief
      2009         1,025,000                 2,445,629         2,445,383         1,435,000         1,934,613         74,386         9,360,011  
Executive Officer
      2008         1,025,000                 3,534,599         2,545,316         4,354,359         889,986         70,908         12,420,168  
                                                                                           
Kenneth M. Fisher(7)
      2010         495,192       $ 500,000         826,516         674,014         790,000                 83,771         3,369,493  
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
      2009         62,500         500,000         2,399,957         899,508         70,000                 505,970         3,937,935  
                                                                                           
David L. Stover
      2010         593,461                 1,716,032         1,399,375         1,200,000         527,382         24,023         5,460,274  
President and Chief
      2009         600,000                 1,662,774         1,668,488         756,000         456,033         26,199         5,169,494  
Operating Officer
      2008         556,250                 1,686,810         1,214,697         1,362,707         199,415         22,687         5,042,566  
                                                                                           
Susan M. Cunningham
      2010         437,769                 825,014         672,786         675,000         386,614         16,847         3,014,030  
Senior Vice President
      2009         440,000                 1,138,344         1,148,115         489,720         402,430         22,644         3,641,253  
— Exploration
      2008         428,333                 836,257         602,215         1,092,242         156,030         16,106         3,131,183  
                                                                                           
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         384,490                 639,091         521,173         700,000         747,129         23,670         3,015,553  
Senior Vice President
      2009         385,000                 763,339         765,728         428,505         708,675         34,282         3,085,529  
— International
      2008         350,000                 749,021         381,797         697,510         243,559         29,105         2,450,992  
                                                                                           
 
(1) Certain of our named executive officers deferred a portion of their base salaries under our Deferred Compensation Plan:
 
                               
            Percentage of
    Amount
Name     Year     Salary Deferred     Deferred
Charles D. Davidson
      2010         45 %     $ 455,690  
        2009         45 %       461,250  
        2008         45 %       461,250  
                               
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         0 %        
        2009         10 %       38,500  
        2008         10 %       35,000  
                               
 
(2) Reflects the aggregate grant date fair value of restricted stock granted under our 1992 Plan, which was computed in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718. Shares granted in 2009 and 2010 will vest according to the following schedule: 20% on the first anniversary of the grant date; an additional 30% on the second anniversary of the grant date; and the remaining 50% on the third anniversary of the grant date. Shares granted in 2008 will vest 100% on the third anniversary of the grant date. The vesting of these shares is not contingent upon the satisfaction of any performance goals. See the Grants of Plan-Based Awards table for information on restricted stock granted in 2010.
 
(3) Reflects the aggregate grant date fair value of nonqualified stock options granted under our 1992 Plan. Options represent the right to purchase shares of common stock at a price per share equal to fair market value on the date of grant. Options will vest ratably over three years in equal installments on the first, second and third anniversaries of the date of grant. Vesting of these options is not contingent upon the satisfaction of any performance goals, although none of the options may be exercised before the first anniversary (absent a change of control of the Company) or after the tenth anniversary of the date of grant. See the Grants of Plan-Based Awards table for information on stock options granted in 2010.


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(4) Reflects payments under our STIP based on the achievement of certain performance goals during the year indicated and payout of performance units previously awarded under our LTIP. STIP awards earned during the year indicated were paid or deferred in February of the following year, and performance unit awards under the LTIP cover the three-year performance period ending on December 31st of the year indicated, as follows:
 
                               
                  Performance
Name     Year     STIP Payout     Units Payout(a)
Charles D. Davidson
      2010       $ 1,855,000          
        2009         1,435,000          
        2008         1,435,000       $ 2,919,359  
                               
Kenneth M. Fisher
      2010         790,000          
        2009         70,000          
                               
David L. Stover
      2010         1,200,000          
        2009         756,000          
        2008         764,296         598,411  
                               
Susan M. Cunningham
      2010         675,000          
        2009         489,720          
        2008         493,831         598,411  
                               
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         700,000          
        2009         428,505          
        2008         432,437         265,073  
                               
 
  (a)  Performance units were not awarded after 2006; therefore, the final payment of performance units was made in May 2009 for the three-year period ended on December 31, 2008.
 
(5) Reflects during the year indicated: (a) the aggregate increase in actuarial present value of the named executive officer’s benefits under our Retirement Plan and our Restoration Plan; and (b) the above-market Deferred Compensation Plan earnings, as follows:
 
                               
                      Deferred
 
              Increase in
      Compensation
 
              Retirement and
      Above-Market
 
Name     Year       Restoration Plans(a)       Earnings(b)  
Charles D. Davidson
      2010       $ 1,324,713       $ 169,330  
        2009         1,757,599         177,014  
        2008         795,515         94,471  
                               
David L. Stover
      2010         513,313         14,069  
        2009         441,239         14,794  
        2008         191,411         8,004  
                               
Susan M. Cunningham
      2010         386,614          
        2009         402,430          
        2008         156,030          
                               
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         743,818         3,311  
        2009         705,759         2,916  
        2008         242,326         1,233  
                               
 
  (a)  Beginning of year values for calculating the aggregate increase in actuarial present value reflect a 6.00% discount rate; end of year values reflect a 5.50% discount rate for the Retirement Plan and a 5.25% discount rate for the Restoration Plan. Present values are based on the same actuarial assumptions and measurement dates disclosed in Note 14 to our financial statements in the Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, except that for purposes of the present value calculations participants are assumed to work until age 65 and commence their benefits at that time.
 
  (b)  Above-market earnings in 2010 are based on the difference between the plan crediting rate of 6.11% and 120% of the annual long-term Applicable Federal Rate as of September 2009 (5.27%); earnings in 2009 are based on the difference between the plan crediting rate of 6.55% and 120% of the annual long-term Applicable Federal Rate as of September 2008 (5.51%); earnings in 2008 are based on the


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  difference between the plan crediting rate of 6.81% and 120% of the annual long-term Applicable Federal Rate as of September 2007 (6.13%).
 
(6) All other compensation includes:
 
                                                                                 
                  Deferred
                             
                  Compensation
                             
            Thrift Plan
    Plan
                            Profit Sharing
            Matching
    Matching
    Club
    Insurance
    Holiday
    Physical
    Plan
 Name     Year     Contributions     Contributions     Memberships     Premiums     Bonus     Examinations     Contributions(a)
Charles D. Davidson
      2010       $ 14,700       $ 46,059       $ 7,391       $ 2,232       $ 157       $          
        2009         14,700         46,800         7,391         2,508         157         2,580          
        2008         13,800         47,700         6,743         2,508         157                    
                                                                                 
Kenneth M. Fisher
      2010         14,700                 10,463         2,232         157               $ 56,219  
        2009                                 209         136                 5,625  
                                                                                 
David L. Stover
      2010         14,700                 6,934         2,232         157                  
        2009         14,700                 6,934         2,508         157         1,900          
        2008         13,800                 6,222         2,508         157                  
                                                                                 
Susan M. Cunningham
      2010         14,700                         1,990         157                  
        2009         14,700                         2,207         157         5,580          
        2008         13,800                         2,149         157                  
                                                                                 
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         14,700                 7,065         1,748         157                  
        2009         14,700         8,400         7,065         1,931         136         2,050          
        2008         13,800         7,200         6,192         1,756         157                  
                                                                                 
 
  (a)  Mr. Fisher received Profit Sharing Plan contributions for 2010 and 2009 as of the last day of each calendar year. A portion of Mr. Fisher’s 2010 Profit Sharing contribution ($17,800) was deposited into Mr. Fisher’s Profit Sharing Plan contribution account in our Thrift Plan. The remaining portion of Mr. Fisher’s 2010 Profit Sharing Plan contribution ($38,419) was credited to Mr. Fisher’s account in our nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan. Mr. Fisher’s 2009 Profit Sharing Plan contribution ($5,625) was deposited into Mr. Fisher’s Profit Sharing Plan account in our Thrift Plan.
 
As reflected in the table above, the salary received by each of our named executive officers as a percentage of their respective total compensation during the year indicated was as follows:
 
                     
            Percentage
            of Total
Name     Year     Compensation
Charles D. Davidson
      2010         9.8 %
        2009         11.0 %
        2008         9.3 %
                     
Kenneth M. Fisher
      2010         14.7 %
        2009         1.6 %
                     
David L. Stover
      2010         10.9 %
        2009         11.6 %
        2008         14.7 %
                     
Susan M. Cunningham
      2010         14.5 %
        2009         12.1 %
        2008         15.7 %
                     
Rodney D. Cook
      2010         12.8 %
        2009         12.5 %
        2008         16.0 %
                     
 
(7) Mr. Fisher was appointed Senior Vice President and CFO of the Company effective November 16, 2009 and received two cash payments in the amount of $500,000 each pursuant to the terms of his compensation arrangement with the Company. The first payment was made on December 16, 2009 and the second payment was made on May 21, 2010.


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Table of Contents

 
Grants of Plan-Based Awards
 
The table below sets forth information regarding grants of plan-based awards made to our named executive officers during 2010.
 
                                                                                                                                   
                                                            All Other
    All Other
           
                                                            Stock
    Option
           
                  Estimated Future Payouts
    Estimated Future Payouts
    Awards:
    Awards:
    Exercise
     
                  Under Non-Equity Incentive
    Under Equity Incentive
    Number of
    Number of
    or Base
    Grant Date
                  Plan Awards     Plan Awards     Shares of
    Securities
    Price of
    Fair Value
                          Stock or
    Underlying
    Option
    of Stock and
      Approval
    Grant
    Units
    Threshold
    Target
    Max
    Threshold
    Target
    Max
    Units (#)
    Options (#)
    Awards
    Option
Name     Date(1)     Date(1)     Granted     ($)     ($)     ($)     (#)     (#)     (#)     (2)     (3)     ($/Sh)(4)     Awards(5)
Charles D. Davidson
      01/29/10         02/01/10                                                                 43,281         105,760       $ 75.09       $ 5,900,316  
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
Kenneth M. Fisher
      01/29/10         02/01/10                                                                 11,007         26,896         75.09         1,500,529  
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
David L. Stover
      01/29/10         02/01/10                                                                 22,853         55,841         75.09         3,115,407  
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
Susan M. Cunningham
      01/29/10         02/01/10                                                                 10,987         26,847         75.09         1,497,800  
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
Rodney D. Cook
      01/29/10         02/01/10                                                                 8,511         20,797         75.09         1,160,264  
                                                                                                                                   
 
(1) All grants were approved by our Compensation Committee, and were effective and priced on the date of grant.
 
(2) Represents the shares of restricted stock granted under our 1992 Plan in 2010. The shares will vest according to the following schedule: 20% of the award will vest on the first anniversary of the grant date; an additional 30% of the award will vest on the second anniversary of the grant date; and the remaining 50% of the award will vest on the third anniversary of the grant date.
 
Dividends declared on shares of restricted stock are accrued during the three-year restricted period. Accrued dividends will be paid upon vesting of restricted shares. Dividends accrued during 2010 as follows: Mr. Davidson — $31,162; Mr. Fisher — $7,925; Mr. Stover — $16,454; Ms. Cunningham — $7,911; and Mr. Cook — $6,128.
 
(3) Represents grants of nonqualified stock options under our 1992 Plan. Options represent the right to purchase shares of common stock at the price per share (equal to fair market value on the date of grant) indicated in the table. Options will vest ratably over three years in equal installments on the first, second and third anniversaries of the date of grant.
 
(4) Exercise price at “fair market value” is defined in our 1992 Plan as the average of the reported high and low trading price of our common stock on the NYSE on the date of grant. The closing price of our common stock on February 1, 2010 was $75.82.
 
(5) Reflects aggregate grant date fair value of restricted stock and nonqualified stock options granted to our named executive officers on February 1, 2010 computed in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718. Grant date fair value of stock options reported above is as follows: Mr. Davidson — $2,650,346; Mr. Fisher — $674,013; Mr. Stover — $1,399,375; Ms. Cunningham — $672,786; and Mr. Cook — $521,173. Grant date fair value of restricted stock reported above is as follows: Mr. Davidson — $3,249,970; Mr. Fisher — $826,516; Mr. Stover — $1,716,032; Ms. Cunningham — $825,014; and Mr. Cook — $639,091.


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Table of Contents

 
Outstanding Equity Awards at Fiscal Year-End
 
The following table sets forth certain information with respect to restricted stock and stock options held by our named executive officers as of December 31, 2010.
 
                                                                                           
                  Equity
                            Equity
     
                  Incentive
                            Incentive
     
                  Plan Awards:
                      Market
    Plan
    Equity Incentive
                  Number of
                Number of
    Value
    Awards:
    Plan Awards:
      Number of
    Number of
    Securities
                Shares or
    of Shares
    Number of
    Market or Payout
      Securities
    Securities
    Underlying
                Units of
    or Units of
    Unearned
    Value of Unearned
      Underlying
    Underlying
    Unexercised
                Stock
    Stock
    Shares, Units or
    Shares, Units or
      Unexercised
    Unexercised
    Unearned
    Option
    Option
    Held That
    Held That
    Other Rights
    Other Rights That
      Options (#
    Options (#
    Options
    Exercise
    Expiration
    Have Not
    Have Not
    That Have Not
    Have Not Vested
Name     Exercisable)     Unexercisable)     (#)     Price ($)     Date     Vested (#)     Vested ($)(7)     Vested (#)     ($)
Charles D. Davidson
      150,000                             17.6825         2/1/2013         48,459 (6)       4,171,351                      
        86,580                             22.2325         2/1/2014         38,967 (8)       3,354,279                      
        58,852                             29.8700         2/1/2015         43,281 (9)       3,725,628                      
        21,550                             32.7925         5/16/2015                                          
        12,000                             41.4650         8/1/2015                                          
        77,957                             45.9400         2/1/2016                                          
        164,118                             53.4150         2/1/2017                                          
        83,467         41,733 (1)                 72.9400         2/1/2018                                          
        43,497         86,993 (2)                 50.2050         1/30/2019                                          
                  105,760 (3)                 75.0900         2/01/2020                                          
 
Kenneth M. Fisher
      10,983         21,966 (4)               67.4600         11/16/2019         28,461 (10)       2,449,923                      
                  26,896 (3)                 75.0900         2/01/2020         11,007 (9)       947,483                      
 
David L. Stover
      5,000                           20.0350         12/16/2012         23,126 (6)       1,990,686                      
        40,000                             17.6825         2/1/2013         21,713 (8)       1,869,055                      
        12,872                             22.2325         2/1/2014         4,725 (11)       406,728                      
        15,580                             29.8700         2/1/2015         22,853 (9)       1,967,186                      
        8,000                             41.4650         8/1/2015                                          
        15,980                             45.9400         2/1/2016                                          
        48,610                             53.4150         2/1/2017                                          
        39,833         19,916 (1)                 72.9400         2/1/2018                                          
        24,237         48,473 (2)                 50.2050         1/30/2019                                          
        5,325         10,649 (5)