Portland, Maine (Aug. 9, 2004) -- 2003 was apparently a good year for chief executives, particularly for those who worked at S&P 500 companies, according to a survey by independent investment research firm The Corporate Library, which showed that total CEO compensation rose by a median of 15.04 percent last year.

The increase for all CEOs in 2003 was 50 percent higher than the rise seen for 2002, when total compensation rose by only 9.49 percent, according to the report, which noted that the "the double-digit rise in pay shows that calls for pay restraint appear to be being ignored."

While the survey of 1,429 CEOs showed a median jump of 15 percent, the S&P led the way in pay levels and growth, The Corporate Library reported. Total compensation for CEOs in that group rose by a median 22.18 percent in 2003, double the rise that they saw in 2002.

Driven by the exercise of stock options or the award of restricted stock, four companies in the S&P 500 -- Oracle, Apple Computers, Yahoo! and Colgate-Palmolive -- saw increases of well over 1,000 percent.

According to the report, every single element of pay rose in value -- base salary, annual bonuses, total annual compensation, restricted stock, long-term incentive payouts and the value realized from the exercise of stock options. The only payment that did not increase was the value of stock option grants, The Corporate Library said.

-- WebCPA staff

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