Try as we might, we can’t trick out three of the hottest products from Apple (AAPL) seriously enough to bring the total price tag over $5,000 (before taxes and shipping) — and that’s even after we throw in a gratuitous 27-inch Thunderbolt display for $999.
No, we’re not re-equipping footnoted World Headquarters. Rather, we’re trying once again to figure out the preoccupation by top executives at major companies with getting Apple’s goodies on the shareholders’ dime.
This time, it’s the chief financial officer at Hyatt Hotels (H), Harmit J. Singh. After serving in that job for four years, as “an integral member of the team that managed the Company’s initial public offering in 2009,” Singh is stepping down as CFO in August and leaving the company in December to “pursue other career opportunities,” according to the 8-K and press release that Hyatt filed with its earnings report on Wednesday.
Unlike most of us, however, Singh will get to take it with him when he goes. Here’s an excerpt from section 2(b)(vi) of his Transition Agreement:
“Following the Separation Date, Executive shall be permitted to retain the Company-owned MacBook Air lap-top computer, computer screen, printer, iPad and iPhone currently being used by Executive; provided Executive shall be responsible for all post-Separation Date cell-phone and data charges, and Executive shall allow the Company to remove all Company information and programs from all such equipment.”
That’s what led us to browse Apple’s online store as if we had an unlimited budget, to try to price out just how much all of this could be worth.
Any way we looked at it, it turns out to be a rounding error compared to Singh’s pay. He made $2.66 million last year, according to the company’s April 23 proxy, $1.1 million of which was in cold cash. As a result, those tricked-out Apple goodies — with maxed-out memory, a big solid-state hard drive and an external DVD drive for the MacBook Air, the snazzy flat-screen display, the extended warranty, the biggest, baddest iPad with 64 GB of memory and 4G wireless (and a bright red genuine leather cover), etc., etc. — work out to something less than 0.19% of his annual income, and 0.45% of his cash compensation. Heck, looking at his salary alone, it’s still just 0.86%.
Keep in mind, too, that his Apple gear won’t be his only parting gifts from Hyatt and its shareholders. He’s also getting about $2.6 million in “separation pay,” “additional consideration” and 2012 bonus. His medical, dental, vision and life-insurance benefits continue for a year after he leaves, and he gets up to $100,000 in outplacement services, plus another $15,000 in reimbursed legal expenses. Oh, and he also gets “Diamond level status under [Hyatt's] Gold Passport program” too, which sounds pretty swank. Would it kill him to buy his own gadgets?
This isn’t the only time Hyatt and its executives have been sweating the small stuff, for what it’s worth. All of its top executives benefited from $5,700 worth of free parking, as well as the company’s corporate dining room, to the tune of $11,421 apiece (which is the equivalent of eating two meals a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year at Red Lobster, given its $20 average check in fiscal 2011, though we assume Hyatt’s food is better).
The only saving grace is that the low cost of the Apple gadgets — on a corporate scale, anyway — means it isn’t much skin off shareholders’ backs. Then again, given that Hyatt’s stock has trailed the S&P 500 by five percentage points over the last year, every little bit counts.
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