Energy Insights

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Time to Check Your Equity Incentive Plan Share Reserve

With depressed energy stocks, more shares are now needed to maintain recent levels of employee equity awards.

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This increase in share use also means that equity incentive plan reserves will drain at a faster rate, and may run out sooner than expected. Companies often ask for more shares when there is roughly enough left in the plan…

2019 Say on Pay Outcomes in Oil & Gas Continue to Trail General Industry

Several oil & gas companies had a rough proxy season in 2019, with overall lukewarm shareholder support for executive pay programs in the industry.

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While many companies received kudos from investors for the addition of returns-oriented incentive metrics, others struggled to demonstrate pay-for-performance alignment or continued to make aggressive pay actions despite lackluster shareholder returns in 2018. In this posting, we take a look…

EVA for E&P Companies: A Challenging Measure

In 2019, ISS introduced Economic Value Added (EVA) analysis as additional context in its evaluation of executive pay and performance prior to issuing a “say on pay” (SOP) vote recommendation.

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While initially the EVA material will be provided purely for information, it seems inevitable that ISS will continue to push to include EVA as a formal part of its pay for performance analysis. There are general concerns about ISS using…

The Revival of Excise Tax Gross-Ups?

Occidental’s proposed acquisition of Anadarko may kick off a new wave of consolidation in the oil & gas industry.

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This potential wave has generated questions about Change-in-Control (CIC) severance protections, amplified by the significant coverage of Anadarko’s last minute enhancements to its CIC severance programs (see article). The Anadarko enhancements included elevated severance benefits and the re-insertion of excise…

Long-Term Incentives and Stock Ownership Ensure Alignment with Shareholders

Annual incentive metrics serve an important purpose: communicate a company’s priorities and provide incremental annual feedback on performance.

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Much of the commentary on energy industry pay programs has focused on annual bonus metrics. Annual incentives are easier to analyze because the payouts are clearly disclosed each year in the Summary Compensation Table, and those payments can communicate how…

Relative TSR Still Delivers Real Pay-for-Performance Alignment in the Oil & Gas Industry

Among the ten largest Oil & Gas production companies that have reported 2017-2018 compensation actions, each has either implemented or enhanced a financial returns metric for 2018 incentive compensation.

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The menu of industry annual incentive metrics (and some long-term incentive metrics) now includes several instances of ROCE, Cash ROCE, ROIC, estimated wellhead returns, and other non-GAAP measures of investment returns. Investors may welcome the incentive accountability to financial returns,…

Despite Strong 2016 Shareholder Returns, Certain Energy Companies Struggle with Say on Pay

In 2016, the oil and gas industry generated positive returns for shareholders, but in 2017 oil and gas companies lagged general industry in Say on Pay support.

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ISS recommended against 18% of oil and gas companies vs. 12% for the entire Russell 3000, and 3% of oil and gas companies failed Say on Pay (i.e., <50% support) compared to only 1% in the Russell 3000. ISS recommended…

Measuring E&P Capital Decisions in an Annual Incentive Plan is Complicated

Are E&P companies using the right metrics in their annual incentive programs?

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There has been a lot of attention (both from the media and investors) focused on whether E&P companies are using the right metrics in their annual incentive programs. E&P companies have been criticized for a heavy focus on production and…

Controlling Activist Investors

Potential Texas legislation would curtail activist investors and proxy advisors.

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While we wait to see what deregulation might come out of the new administration regarding Dodd-Frank or other executive compensation regulations, the Texas legislature might take a huge step in favor of corporate boards and management. A bill currently pending…

Effective Use of Discretion in Annual Incentives

Analyzing bonus payout outcomes of publicly traded E&P companies.

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Going into 2015, annual incentive goal-setting was challenging for oil & gas companies, to say the least. E&P companies were wrestling with lowering production, where production growth is traditionally a cornerstone E&P bonus metric. Services and drilling companies were experiencing…

The BP Shareholder Vote: A Cautionary Tale

Despite using the "correct" process, BP shareholders still took issue with the company's compensation programs.

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Compensation is often more about the message than the money. BP’s recent shareholder vote offered some valuable lessons for other energy companies about sending the right messages to shareholders when commodity prices impact business results. On April 14th, nearly 60%…

The Impact of Lower Stock Prices on 2016 Say on Pay

Many energy companies should anticipate tripping ISS's absolute stock price test.

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The current industry downturn is already impacting compensation programs and will likely also impact the upcoming Say on Pay season. Based on our research, the market decline will cause an increased number of energy companies to trip a key ISS…

The Impact of Lower for Longer

Oil prices seem to be remaining "lower for longer," so what does that mean for compensation?

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In a previous Energy Insights post, Jim Wolf discussed the impact of $40 oil prices on early 2015 compensation decisions. At the time, energy companies speculated whether we’d see a “V”-shaped or “U”-shaped recovery. After a volatile summer – doubts…

ISS’s Say on Pay Vote Recommendations Surprisingly Similar to Last Year

Some experts expected more "against" votes for the energy industry this year, but that did not come to fruition.

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Heading into this recently past proxy season, experts speculated that ISS might recommend “against” say on pay proposals among the energy industry at a higher rate compared to last year assuming the dramatic decline in stock prices, driven by the…

Proposed Pay for Performance Disclosures May Actually Help

Benefits of the proposed disclosures include a standardized methodology for realizable pay and additional data that will facilitate shareholder analysis.

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The SEC recently proposed rules outlining a new CD&A disclosure coming out of Dodd-Frank (see Meridian Alert here) – these rules require disclosure of the link between performance and compensation “actually paid”. While the proposed disclosures will likely require a…

Compensation When Oil is in the $40’s

With oil prices in the $40 per-barrel range, this creates an entirely new environment for oil and gas compensation decisions. Meridian analyzes the themes and realities for 2015.

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Oil prices in the $40s create an entirely new environment for oil and gas compensation decisions this year. From our vantage point across the industry we’ve noted several important themes and realities: Situations differ. Low prices impact everyone, but some…

Energy Industry Influences ISS Peer Approach

ISS recently released its policy updates for the 2015 proxy season, with one notable change.

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ISS recently released its policy updates for the 2015 proxy season (Meridian summaries here and here). One notable change is ISS’s methodology for selecting peers for energy companies for use in its pay for performance analysis. This change was likely…

Setting Annual Incentive Targets When Commodity Price Drops

One of the hardest challenges for a Compensation Committee is to set annual incentive performance targets at levels that are lower than the prior year’s actual performance.

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One of the hardest challenges for a Compensation Committee is to set annual incentive performance targets at levels that are lower than the prior year’s actual performance. It is difficult to explain to shareholders when share price is dropping, how…

The Real Problem with the CEO Pay Ratio

SEC issued proposed rules on the CEO pay ratio rule are still no closer to finding out what’s going to be in the final rules, when they will be issued, or when they will be effective.

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It’s been more than a year since the SEC issued proposed rules on the CEO pay ratio rule, and we are still no closer to finding out what’s going to be in the final rules, when they will be issued,…

The Line Between Ownership and Compensation

Cheniere Energy’s recent challenges offer interesting lessons in understanding the differences between “ownership” and “compensation”.

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Cheniere Energy’s recent challenges offer interesting lessons in understanding the differences between “ownership” and “compensation”. Cheniere has faced notable public challenges to its executive compensation program, including the withdrawal of an incentive plan proposal to shareholders and failed Say on…