CFO Picks Doughnuts Over Steaks

January 15, 2015

We noticed a strange coincidence in the filings earlier this week made by two different restaurant companies.

First came this 8-K filed by casual steak chain, Texas Roadhouse Inc. on Jan. 12 , in which it disclosed at the very bottom of the filing that Price Cooper IV had renewed his employment agreement on Jan. 8. Later that same day, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. announced that Cooper had been named its new CFO.

It struck us a bit odd. Why would Cooper renew his employment agreement with Texas Roadhouse, a company he had been working at for the past nine years, when it seems pretty likely that he had already sewn up his deal with Krispy Kreme? Indeed, Texas Roadhouse’s filing noted that “we entered into an employment agreement on similar terms and conditions with G. Price Cooper, IV, to serve as Chief Financial Officer, before he announced resignation on January 9, 2015.”

Now obviously the filings don’t speak. But we wondered whether this was some sort of negotiating tactic for Cooper to wrangle a better deal out of Krispy Kreme. Although Krispy Kreme has yet to disclose Cooper’s compensation, outgoing Krispy Kreme CFO Douglas Muir received total compensation valued at $1.2 million for fiscal year ended in February 2014, including a salary of $376,175 and equity awards valued at about $425,000, according to its proxy filing from last May.

According to Texas Roadhouse’s most recent filing, Cooper’s total compensation was $441,065 in 2013, compared with $1.57 million in 2012. (His 2014 compensation figures weren’t immediately available.)

The steep decline in the value of Cooper’s total compensation in 2013 was mainly due to lack of any stock grants that year compared with $1.43 million in 2012. His base salary, however, remained flat at $250,000 for both the years, as part of their 2012 agreement, which said he would continue to get that amount from 2012 to 2014.

So, what did Cooper get under his new agreement with Texas Roadhouse? A big $100,000 boost to salary, to $350,000 for 2015, a base bonus amount of $200,000 and 100,000 in restricted stock units, valued at $3.49 million, based on the closing price of company’s stock of $34.89 each on Jan. 9.

We’ve been reading filings long enough to know that there was probably something even sweeter than a Krispy Kreme doughnut swaying his decision. Stay tuned!

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