Doughnut line keeps chugging at Krispy Kreme…

There’s plenty of news on the pay, performance and corporate governance front out there today, what with JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM) annual meeting, the recent departure of Yahoo’s (YHOO) embattled chief executive, and more. Those are getting plenty of attention — and, honestly, we didn’t see a lot in recent JPMorgan and Yahoo filings that hasn’t been covered pretty thoroughly already. But big news days can let other interesting but less momentous details slip through the cracks, so we thought we’d check in with a footnoted frequent flier.

Krispy Kreme Donuts (KKD) filed its proxy last week, and as usual, there were plenty of doughnuts to go around.

Chairman and CEO James H. Morgan got a $325,000 raise, almost half in cash — a 5% raise in salary, a 35% increase in option awards, and a 14% higher bonus. Once again this year, Morgan got a “cash ‘executive allowance’ paid at the rate of $2,000 per month…” We like how they put the term “executive allowance” in quotes — though we’re not sure if it’s a nod to the overuse of quotes on many a donut-shop sign, or if maybe they share our skepticism about the merits of executive “allowances” (which strike us as just so much more cash). Here’s how the proxy describes that allowance elsewhere:

“Mr. Morgan’s executive allowance is in lieu of perquisites and other personal benefits typically afforded to Chief Executive Officers at other public companies, such as company-provided cars, annual physical examinations, and financial planning services. The Compensation Committee feels that the provision of an executive allowance permits the Company to attract and retain key talent in the Chief Executive Officer position while at the same time controlling costs.”

We don’t quite get that controlling costs bit — it’s as if not giving him an allowance would give him free rein to cut loose with the company credit card, instead of, you know, making him pay for perks out of his own pocket. In any case, here’s a fun fact: That $24,000 allowance would buy about 4,000 dozen donuts, or more than a day and a half of production at a smaller Krispy Kreme store, assuming the assembly line runs full tilt around the clock.

Company directors averaged more than $300,000 apiece — steep for a company of Krispy Kreme’s size, just shy of $440 million in market-cap. That amount includes $1,200 apiece for what at first seems like a trivial expense — “fees paid at the rate of $300 per quarter for miscellaneous expenses” — except that the company notes that it already reimburses executives

“for travel and other expenses incurred to attend meetings of the Board of Directors and its committees, continuing education courses applicable to his or her role as a member of our Board of Directors and its committees, and such other meetings as requested by the Company…”

In other words, that $1,200 — like Morgan’s allowance — is just lagniappe, more freebies of the sort we’ve come to expect from Krispy Kreme, at least when it comes to its officers and directors. (Fun fact addendum: $1,200 buys 200 dozen donuts at $6 a box, or maybe two hours’ production at a smaller store, though your local outlet may have different prices.)

Sadly, we expect Krispy Kreme shareholders have a slightly different perspective. The company’s shares are trailing the S&P 500 so far this year, and badly trailed the restaurant industry last year on a total-return basis (as well as over trailing 1-, 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods).

Investors might have been better off just enjoying the donuts.

Image source: glazed donuts via