CEO Takes Harley-Davidson for a Ride

How’s this for a kick in the pants: Flying in the face of it’s first quarterly loss in 16 years, a seriously questionable compensation package has just been awarded to the new, short-time CEO of Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG).

Keith E. Wandell, the new Harley-Davidson CEO, and former COO of Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI), has been awarded a compensation package totaling approximately $6.4 million for his participation in Harley-Davidson operations from may 2009 through the end of that year. When given the company’s downward slide through 2009, and in consideration of tough times ahead for those who survive on high-end discretionary spending, might there be cause to wonder if Mr. Wandell’s compensation package is just a tad excessive?

The compensation package in question included a base salary of $650,025, a bonus of $780,030, stock and option awards valued at $4.9 million at time of issue, and other compensation worth $22,515. That’s mighty fine compensation for a fellow who has watched the company’s outbound shipments decrease by more that 25% during his short, yet well paid, tenure.

The one saving grace here, when weighing compensation against performance, is the way in which Harley-Davidson stock has performed through this same time period. The daily average on Harley-Davidson stock value has risen about 20% since Wandell has moved in and taken the helm.

However, I do have a hard time believing that it is Wandell’s leadership that has accomplished that rise. Let’s hope that he proves me wrong.

CEO Takes Harley-Davidson for a Ride