Comcast's Roberts is area's best-paid CEO

Comcast Corp. chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts. “Brian Roberts is the chairman and CEO of Philadelphia’s largest and most complex company, and 2010 was a very strong year for Comcast" from a financial performance and shareholder perspective, said another company executive.

Comcast Corp., Philadelphia's highest-profile company, also has the region's highest-paid CEO.

Chief executive officer Brian L. Roberts is atop the compensation list of CEOs of publicly traded companies with a presence in the Philadelphia region, making $28.16 million in 2010, according to a survey prepared for The Inquirer by Equilar Inc.

That figure includes a salary of $2.8 million, with bonuses, equity awards, and stock options making up the rest.

The company says Roberts earns his paycheck.

"Brian Roberts is the chairman and CEO of Philadelphia's largest and most complex company, and 2010 was a very strong year for Comcast from a financial performance and shareholder perspective," Comcast's executive vice president, David L. Cohen, said in a statement.

"Comcast's stock also performed very well during 2010, providing a total return of 33 percent - close to tripling the S&P 500's 12.8 percent total return and outperforming the telco, satellite, and media and entertainment sectors by substantial margins."

And Roberts is on a roll. He engineered Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal, which was sealed in 2010 but did not become official until early 2011. Roberts headed the Comcast team that outbid other networks for the rights for the Olympic Games in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020. Comcast is also on the cutting edge of media technology.

Comcast's proxy statement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, put Roberts' 2010 total compensation at $31.10 million, with 71 percent of it tied to performance.

Equilar and other shareholder services companies that scour corporate filings to calculate executive compensation each use their own methods and often arrive at different totals for CEO pay.

Companies that evaluate executive pay for pension funds and other institutional shareholders arrived at disparate conclusions on Comcast.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. did not give a specific grade for Roberts' pay, but the firm said Comcast's overall executive pay policies were of "low concern."

"What helped Comcast in this overall analysis is, the total shareholder return has outpaced its sector and the S&P 500 over the past one-, three- and five-year periods," spokesman Ted Allen said.

The Executive Pay Scorecard, produced by GovernanceMetrics International Inc., uses the $31.10 million number for Roberts and gave Comcast a red flag on five of 10 criteria, though it rendered an overall assessment that the pay package warranted "average" concern. EPS said Roberts' "peer group" of CEOs had a median total compensation of $17.80 million.

Glass, Lewis & Co. L.L.C., a shareholder services company, gave Comcast's compensation package a D, using the school grading scale. The D grade was an improvement over the F from 2009. Glass Lewis did not include as much retirement-oriented pay in its calculation, so its 2010 total for Roberts was $29.91 million.

"We believe shareholders should be concerned with the company's failure to adequately link pay to performance," Glass Lewis said in its report.

Glass Lewis said Comcast's Roberts was not the highest paid CEO among a group of four competitors: DirecTV, TimeWarner Cable Inc., and Dish Network Corp.

It said DirecTV CEO Michael White took home $33.66 million.

Egan-Jones Proxy Services did not respond to a call Friday seeking the Haverford company's evaluation of Roberts' pay.


Contact staff writer David Sell at 215-854-4506 or

Inquirer staff writer Harold Brubaker contributed to this article.