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Is the 'Shareholder Spring' Under Way?

The catchphrase seems to have got its start over in London after shareholders there shot down pay proposals for CEOs at insurance giant Aviva, drug maker AstraZeneca, and media company Trinity Mirror.

But many feel the term can be just as easily applied on this side of the pond as well. Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit recently felt shareholder anger over the seeming disconnect between his pay and the company’s performance. Sprint’s CEO has come under similar fire from a teacher’s pension fund in Canada and another, larger teacher’s pension in California is taking issue with Wal-Mart’s leadershipfollowing news about bribery in Mexico.

And if shareholders as a whole seem discontent with poor performance, the market is generally even more so. Less than stellar results and near misses have been punished this earnings season. Performance face-plants like Green Mountain and Netflixhave been mauled.

Of course, not all companies are punished. The investor frenzy for Facebook’s IPOstill seems on the rise, despite some raised eyebrows over CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s solo Instagram deal and grumbling over general roadshow haughtiness.

Maybe that’ll change after there’s some actual stock performance.

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Allen Wastler is managing editor of CNBC.com. Follow him on Twitter @AWastler. You can catch his commentary on CNBC Radio. And check out his fiction.