Top Stories
Top Stories
Slideshows

Highest Paid CEOs

Which CEOs Earn the Most?
Photo: Image Source | Getty Images

Executive compensation is a hot-button issue, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and reforms enacted under the .

Increasingly, shareholders are asking whether CEOs are worth many millions of dollars in annual compensation. Using a new rule called ", " shareholders now get a nonbinding vote for or against an executive's compensation.

As a result, at least one well-known CEO was driven from his perch this year: In April, Citigroup shareholders . By October, Pandit was out.

CNBC.com sifted through data from the S&P 500 to find the 21 CEOs with the largest average compensation packages over the last four years, from 2007 to 2011. (Figures for 2012 are incomplete.)

The source of the compensation data is CapIQ.

Compensation is defined as salary, cash bonus, stock awards, option awards, nonequity incentive plan, change in pension value, and all other compensation (such as contributions to 401(k)s and life insurance premium payments). Some of the CEOs on our list have been with their companies for less than four years, and those cases are noted.

We also looked at each company's year-to-date stock percentage gain.

Are these executives — all raking in an average of $25 million or more — worth it?

By Deborah Caldwell and Gina Francolla
Posted 19 Nov. 2012

David Cote
Photo: Joshua Roberts | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Honeywell International (HON)

Average compensation: $25 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 10.32 percent
CEO since: February 2002
With the company since: 2002
Age: 60

Kieran Gallahue
Photo: CareFusion.com

CareFusion Corporation (CFN)

Compensation: $25 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 5.19 percent
CEO since: February 2011
With the company since: 2011
Age: 49

Ralph Lauren
Photo: Getty Images

Ralph Lauren Corporation (RL)

Average compensation: $27 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 8 percent
CEO since: 1967
With the company since: 1967
Age: 73

Note: Lauren founded Ralph Lauren Corporation.

Miles White
Photos: Getty Images

Abbott Laboratories (ABT)

Average compensation: $27 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 13.36 percent
CEO since: 1998
With the company since: 1984
Age: 57

Brian Roberts
Photo: Getty Images

Comcast Corporation (CMCSA)

Average compensation: $27 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 49.3 percent
CEO since: 2002
With the company since: 1981
Age: 53

Disclosure: Comcast is the corporate parent of CNBC.

David Zaslav
Photo: Frederick M. Brown | Stringer | Getty Images

Discovery Communications (DISCA)

Average compensation: $27 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 34.76 percent
CEO since: January 2007
With the company since: 2007
Age: 52

Louis Camilleri
Photo: Phillip Morris International

Philip Morris International (PM)

Average compensation: $28 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 4.98 percent
CEO since: April 2002
With the company since: 1978
Age: 57

Rupert Murdoch
Photo: Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images

News Corp. (NWSA)

Average compensation: $28 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 31.92 percent
CEO since: 1952
With the company since: 1952
Age: 81

Note: Murdoch inherited News Limited from his father in 1952; he later became founder, chairman and CEO of News Corp.

Michael Jeffries
Photo: Michael Loccisano | FilmMagic | Getty Images

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF)

Average compensation: $29 million
Year-to-date stock gain: -14.17 percent
CEO since: February 1992
With the company since: 1992
Age: 68

Rex Tillerson
Photo: Aaron M. Sprecher | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)

Average compensation: $30 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 1.55 percent
CEO since: January 2006
With the company since: 1975
Age: 60

Robert Iger
Photo: Getty Images

Walt Disney (DIS)

Average compensation: $33 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 25.79 percent
CEO since: October 2005
With the company since: 1974
Age: 61

David Simon
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Simon Property Group (SPG)

Average compensation: $35 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 14.9 percent
CEO since: 1995
With the company since: 1993
Age: 51

Note: Simon is the son of company co-founder Melvin Simon. In July 2012, Simon's shareholders rejected an eight-year compensation package that included a base salary of $1.25 million and stock awards valued at $132 million over eight years.

James Gallogly
Photo: LyondellBasell

LyondellBasell Industries (LYB)

Average compensation: $35 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 51.46 percent
CEO since: May 2009
With the company since: May 2009
Age: 59

Aubrey McClendon
Photo: Carter Smith | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chesapeake Energy (CHK)

Average compensation: $39 million
Year-to-date stock gain: -24.41 percent
CEO since: 1989
With the company since: 1989
Age: 53

Note: McClendon co-founded Chesapeake Energy in 1989. In June 2012, he was stripped of his ROLE AS chairman amid accusations he used Chesapeake employees to perform personal work and had used corporate planes for personal use.

John Hammergren
Photo: David Maxwell | Bloomberg | Getty Images

McKesson Corporation (MCK)

Average compensation: $42 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 18.43 percent
CEO since: April 2001
With the company since: 1996
Age: 53

Philippe Dauman
Photo: Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Viacom Inc. (VIAB)

Average compensation: $43 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 5.68 percent
CEO since: September 2006
With the company since: 1993
Age: 58

Richard Adkerson
Photo: Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX)

Average compensation: $49 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 1.69 percent
CEO since: December 2003
With the company since: 1989
Age: 65

Leslie Moonves
Photo: Getty Images

CBS Corporation (CBS)

Average compensation: $52 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 22.84 percent
CEO since: April 1998
With the company since: 1995
Age: 63

Ron Johnson
Photo: Getty Images

J.C. Penney Company Inc. (JCP)

Compensation: $53 million
Year-to-date stock gain: -52 percent
CEO since: November 2011
With the company since: 2011
Age: 54

Larry Ellison

Oracle Corporation (ORCL)

Average compensation: $70 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 15.32 percent
CEO since: June 1977
With the company since: 1977
Age: 68

Note: Ellison founded Oracle Corporation and has been its CEO ever since.

Tim Cook

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Average compensation: $95 million
Year-to-date stock gain: 32.56 percent
CEO since: August 2011
With the company since: 1998
Age: 52

Note: Steve Jobs resigned as CEO Aug. 24, 2011, and upon taking on the new role, Cook received stock awards valued at $376 million.