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Keep it simple stupid…

When a proxy’s summary compensation table requires 13 separate footnotes to explain the various forms of compensation lavished on a company’s top executives, as FedEx’s (FDX) recent proxy does, it kind of defeats the point of having a summary. While a quick glance at FedEx’s chart will tell you that each of the top five executives received bonuses of over $1 million for the fiscal year ended May 31 and that Chairman and CEO Fred Smith received a $2.6 million bonus, more than double his 2003 bonus, you have to get out the reading glasses to get to the other details. For example, FedEx also spent $140,002 on financial counseling for Smith in 2003, up from $89,839 a year earlier (it doesn’t give a break-down for what it spent in 2004, though it’s hard to imagine it was zero) and that Smith spent over $200,000 last year on personal use of the corporate jet, slightly less than he spent in 2003. Other footnotes in the “summary” deal with excess life and umbrella insurance, tax reimbursements for restricted stock, imputed interest on an interest-free loan, and what FedEx describes as a “special recognition bonus”.