Five of the top executives at the six Idaho companies that trade on major stock exchanges took home multimillion-dollar compensation packages in their companies’ latest fiscal years.
Three of the six had pay cuts, reflecting a mix of factors that included falling profitability at some companies, especially Boise’s Micron Technology Inc. The pay changes ranged from an 18 percent reduction for Micron’s Mark Durcan, who made $9.4 million, to an 82 percent increase for U.S. Ecology’s Jeff Feeler, who made $1.4 million.
Last year brought change at the top at only one of Idaho’s publicly traded companies. Thomas Carlile at Boise Cascade retired, handing the company to a new CEO.
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A seventh company, tiny Timberline Resources of Coeur d’Alene, replaced its CEO. But Timberline also yielded to its lackluster performance on the New York Stock Exchange-owned NYSE MKT and delisted itself in February 2016, moving its shares to an over-the-counter exchange for speculative investors.
Of the five CEOs who remained from 2014, three had overall pay cuts. Almost all received more compensation in bonuses, stocks, options and other forms than they received in salary.
$133,688 Average annual wage for chief executives in the Boise area in May 2015
1. Mark Durcan, Micron Technology: $9.4 million
It was a rough year for his company, but Mark Durcan retained his title as the highest-paid corporate CEO in Idaho in 2015.
Durcan’s total compensation fell by more than $2 million as Micron suffered amid a worldwide glut of memory chips. Revenue barely rose, from $16.13 billion to $16.19 billion, in the fiscal year that ended in August, and it has fallen for the past five quarters. Profits for the year fell to $2.88 billion from $3.04 billion.
The damage to investors was deep: The Boise company’s stock price tumbled 59 percent during the calendar year 2015 to $14.16.
Durcan did not meet company targets for profitability and customer satisfaction. He volunteered for a 50 percent cut in his base salary, effective last October, to $525,000 a year while the company cuts costs. That is equivalent to 5.5 percent of his total compensation based on 2015’s pay.
Micron employs 32,000 people worldwide, including 6,000 in Boise.
2. Phillips S. Baker Jr., Hecla Mining Co.: $4.12 million
Hecla maintained its production levels for gold, silver, lead and zinc. But the Coeur d’Alene company turned from an $18 million profit in 2014 to an $87 million loss last year, thanks to tumbling metals prices. The average price of silver — Hecla’s largest metal by volume — fell nearly 18 percent, continuing a five-year trend over which the price has plunged 56 percent.
Baker, who is also president, saw his total compensation drop from nearly $4.6 million in 2014 to $4.1 million last year because of drops in his stock awards and incentive pay. He did hit some incentive thresholds that reward production rather than sales or profit.
Hecla’s sales fell from about $501 million in 2014 to nearly $444 million last year, an 11.4 percent decline. The company’s stock price fell from $2.79 to $1.89.
Hecla continued a string of mine acquisitions by purchasing Revett Mining Co. and its Rock Creek Mine near Noxon, Mont., for $20.1 million. The company incurred a $25 million loss related to its 2012 suspension of operations at the Lucky Friday mine in North Idaho to solve safety problems after two fatal accidents.
The company has 1,400 employees.
3. Darrel T. Anderson, Idacorp: $2.48 million
Anderson led Idaho Power’s parent company through another highly profitable year, with nearly $195 million net income in the year ending Dec. 31. That was just $1.5 million more than the company made in 2014 but marked the eighth consecutive year of net-income growth.
“Increased sales volumes associated with continued growth in the number of Idaho Power customers increased operating income by $10.3 million, though this was partially offset by a $6.7 million decrease from reduced overall usage per customer,” the company said in its annual report.
Revenues were $1.27 billion, barely down from $1.28 billion in 2014. The stock price rose from $66.31 to $68.
Anderson became CEO in mid-2014 after nearly two decades with the Boise company, which employs 2,000 people. His base salary in 2015 was significantly higher than it was in 2014. But the company said it was still less than the median base salaries of three industry data sets because of the short time he has been CEO.
Anderson won praise from the company’s board for his “effective and thoughtful outreach” in the community, among other things.
4. Thomas K. Corrick, Boise Cascade Co.: $2.36 million
When Corrick was promoted from chief operating officer after Thomas Carlile retired in March 2015, he took control of a company on its way to a second straight year of modest sales growth — and falling profits.
In 2015, Corrick earned about half as much as Carlile did in his last full year as CEO, 2013. That’s partly due to a change in Boise Cascade’s executive compensation plan, which is shifting to long-term performance goals with rewards that won’t vest for two years.
The Boise company, with 6,000 employees, reported sales of $3.6 billion in 2015, up less than 2 percent from the year before. Profits fell from $80 million to $52 million , a 37 percent drop. The stock dropped from $37.15 to $25.53.
Boise Cascade makes and sells building materials, and its fortunes are tied to residential construction. Starts for single-family homes and apartments saw double-digit increases in 2015, driving $60 million in sales increases. However, those gains were offset by costs rising $88 million.
5. Jeffrey R. Feeler, U.S. Ecology: $1.44 million
Feeler, the CEO since 2013, has led the Boise company through a growth period and was rewarded last year with an 82 percent raise, mostly in stocks, options and other compensation.
The company, with 1,400 employees in the U.S. and Canada, more than doubled its business in two years. Revenues were $563 million, compared with $447 million in 2014.
But profits shrank from $171 million to $146 million, largely due to higher operating costs. The share price slid from $41.38 to $36.44.
Last year, U.S. Ecology took a breather from buying other environmental services businesses in the U.S. and Canada. Instead, it sold off Allstate Power-Vac, a New Jersey company that it acquired when it bought EQ Holdings (also known as Environmental Quality Co.) in June 2014. U.S. Ecology used cash proceeds from the $58 million sale to pay down debt. It had paid for the $465 million acquisition of EQ with a combination of cash and debt.
6. Dennis Gilles, U.S. Geothermal: $785,774
The smallest of the six, this Boise company tallied 2015 sales that were nearly identical to 2014’s, rising less than 1 percent to $31 million. Profits fell from $14.9 million to nearly $5 million, and the stock rose to 63 cents from 43 cents.
With 48 employees, U.S. Geothermal had grown in previous years by completing its largest plant, Neal Hot Springs near Vale, Ore., and buying low on unused or incomplete sites in California, Oregon, Nevada and Guatemala.
The value of Gilles’ compensation package has dropped slightly in each of his three years running the company. A drop in Gilles’ bonus from $150,000 in 2014 to $102,500 more than offset a salary hike from $399,000 to $410,000. The cuts were stipulated in his contract rather than based on performance.
The tiny mining-exploration company went through some major management and stock changes in 2015 and early 2016.
Coeur d’Alene-based Timberline ended its last fiscal year with four employees and $4.4 million in losses.
Timberline in February voluntarily delisted from the NYSE MKT, a New York Stock Exchange-owned trading place for small-cap stocks, and moved its trading to a less-regulated, over-the-counter marketplace. It had been warned by the NYSE MKT that it faced delisting because of its low share prices. The stock closed at 17 cents on Feb. 12.
“Timberline’s move from the NYSE MKT to the OTCQB is part of the company’s focus on controlling costs and conserving cash and is expected to simplify the company’s administrative requirements and reduce listing and legal fees,” the company said in a news release Feb. 15.
Timberline owns or has agreements to explore for minerals — mainly gold and silver — at sites in Nevada and Montana. Timberline had about 800 registered shareholders as of December 2015 and a handful of employees. The company continued to spend money without making any revenue as it searched for ore, ending the year with negative earnings per share.
Top leadership underwent a shakeup. Former CEO Paul Dircksen was replaced by Kiran Patankar, who advised mining companies in Canadian investment banking before joining Timberline. Patankar’s tenure ended in January, after he submitted a resignation he said was for “good reason,” which entitled him to severance payments. The board disagreed with that characterization and dismissed him on Jan. 19.
Patankar’s total compensation was $294,786 in 2015.
Steven Osterberg then took over as CEO, after four years as Timberline’s vice president of exploration.
Where did all the companies go?
In 2012, Idaho had 13 companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq Stock Market or the NYSE MKT, formerly the American Stock Exchange.
Since then, six publicly held companies have been swallowed in mergers or acquisitions, relocated to other states or closed.
Boise Inc., MWI Veterinary Supply, Intermountain Community Bancorp and Home Federal Bancorp became parts of other companies. Coeur d’Alene Mines relocated to Chicago. Coldwater Creek went bankrupt and closed. A seventh company, Timberline Resources, no longer trades on a major exchange.
The Statesman’s print edition lists closing prices for all six surviving Idaho public companies in the “Idaho Companies” box of its daily markets tables.
A big change might come to Idaho this year: Albertsons Cos., owned by a consortium led by New York-based Cerberus Capital Management, has announced its desire to sell some stock to the public.
The Boise company delayed a planned initial public offering last fall and has yet to announce a new date. Albertsons is Idaho’s largest company, public or private, with 274,000 employees and $59 billion in sales last year.