Qualcomm CEO's pay jumps 395% in slow year for phone chips

C-suite exec gets 223 staffers' worth of pay after cyclical headwinds dampen consumer demand for kit

Qualcomm might have had a relatively rough ride in 2023 given the continued decline in smartphone chip shipments across the industry but its execs didn't, at least not in terms of their pay awards.

The mobile chipmaker reported a year-on-year revenue decline of 19 percent to $35.82 billion for the 12 months ended September 24, 2023, and net profit plunged 33 percent to $7.232 billion.

Yet according to the Notice of 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Proxy Statement, posted yesterday, most of Qualcomm's top brass all took home bigger compensation packages than the prior year.

CEO Cristiano Amon's base salary went up 17 percent to $1.35 million to "reflect his strong performance and leadership as well as to remain market competitive. This was Mr Amon's first salary increase since becoming CEO and was determined after considering the Company's record financial results in fiscal 2022 under his leadership."

Amon got the top job in 2021.

In addition to his wages, Amon received stock awards worth $21.1 million, non-equity incentive compensation of $540,000 - a cash bonus for performance, which was only 20 percent of what he could have earned if adjusted revenues and adjusted operating profits were higher. And he was also awarded $493,940 for all other compensation.

The total award for the top dog was $23.49 million, which isn't bad in a year when business shrank. In 2022 he was awarded $4.754 million. That looks like a 394 percent year-to-year increase to us.

"Our fiscal 2023 financial performance was impacted by the cyclical headwinds in the semiconductor industry, including a challenging macroeconomic environment," says the Snapdragon giant in the filing. "These dynamics negatively impacted consumer demand for smartphones and internet of things (IoT) products, which led to elevated channel inventory across our customer base."

Global smartphone shipments declined in the nine months ended September 2023, according to data compiled by IDC, and this followed a woeful 2022 when shipments fell 18.3 percent.

Qualcomm said commercial achievements Amon made in 2023 included boosting leadership in the premium and higher tier Android device sector with the newest Snapdragon platforms; signing a deal with Apple to supply 5G Modem‑RF systems until 2026; announcing its expansion into PCs; and creating designs that secured agreements with BMW, GM and others.

Amon was the only C-suite exec to get a salary bump, yet the others still did pretty well. CFO Akash Palkhiwala was awarded $8.5 million compared to $2.275 million in the prior year, and CTO James Thompson was awarded $10.7 million, up from $2.65 million. President of licensing and global affairs, Alexander Rogers, was awarded $7.49 million, up from $2.28 million.

The average compensation for a Qualcomm employee in 2023 was $105,548, so one Amon = the average pay for 223 staffers. ®

Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to correct a typo in Amon's base salary. It's $1.35 million with an m, not a b. All other figures are correct.

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