Where will the See-Ya boot find its mark this month? There's no shortage of targets. But with help from corporate governance specialists Glass, Lewis & Co. LLC, we've finally settled on Pleasanton, California-based Safeway Inc., where CEO Steven A. Burd may be facing the closeout sale of his life.
CEO: Steven A. Burd
Tenure: 10 years
Total Shareholder Return*: -61.9%
Peer Index Return*: -42.9%
S&P 500 Index Return*: -9.1%
Total CEO Pay**: $20.6 million
This once high-flying CEO is in a peck of trouble. Start with a more than two-month-long strike by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union at Safeway's Vons unit. Strikers have targeted Safeway, in particular, for Burd's hard-line stance. Add on massive debt, brutal price competition from Wal-Mart, and a group of acquisitions so costly that the company was forced to write down $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2002. Two key execs resigned last year, including CFO Vasant Prabhu in early December. A Safeway spokesman points out the stock has risen over 350% since Burd arrived. Still, this is one executive suite that has passed its sell-by date.
*Data from Glass, Lewis & Co. and FactSet Research Systems for five years ending December 4, 2003. Peer index return includes companies with the same SIC code. Split-adjusted, includes dividend readjustment.
**Total compensation includes salary, bonus, stock-option exercises, and all other long-term compensation for the past five years, excepting the value of options granted but not exercised.
A version of this article appeared in the February 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.