"That killed my bonus, and quite appropriately so," Scott said. "The recession last year, which we hadn't counted on, and then Sept. 11--those things weren't our fault, but they caused us to miss our numbers.
But other local companies view it somewhat differently, with no apologies.
At Des Plaines-based United Stationers Inc., Chief Executive Randall Larrimore wasn't slated to receive a bonus because the company missed its earnings-per-share targets. But the board of directors opted to give him a discretionary bonus of $300,000, less than half the previous year's amount.
"While we didn't hit the earnings-per-share target that was part of the incentive plan, the economy and a lot of things impacted that," Larrimore said. His cash package fell 16 percent, and his company's stock was up 40 percent, ranking him third-best on pay-for-performance.
"The board ended up giving me a bonus, a discretionary bonus ... in respect of other financial results," he said. Specifically, the board cited improvements in working capital and share price, and leadership in a corporate restructuring.
Another of the CEOs at the top of the list, George Bayly of Ivex Packaging Corp., took a pay cut while his stock was up nearly 74 percent. In 2000, he was near the bottom of the list, with a nearly 50 percent raise, while the stock crept slightly higher.
At the other end of the spectrum, some CEOs whose pay hikes were high relative to stock performance in 2001 said they will pay the piper in 2002.
Melvyn Bergstein, chief executive at DiamondCluster International Inc., ranked second-worst on the pay-for-performance measure, because his cash pay in the company's fiscal year ending March 31, 2001, rose 6.1 percent, while the company's shares plummeted.
The dot-com crash caused the technology consulting firm's business to fall off considerably in calendar 2001, leading to employee pay cuts and furloughs. And for fiscal 2002, Bergstein said he will not get a bonus and his overall cash pay will drop 66 percent, to $277,343.
"Basically, what you've got here is a timing issue," he said. "You can't react instantaneously."
Timing also was an issue at insurance companies Aon Corp. and Old Republic International Corp., spokesmen said.
Pay packages for A.C. Zucaro of Old Republic and Patrick Ryan of Aon are based on performance in the preceding fiscal year, so pay levels for 2001, a weak year in the industry with soft stock prices, were based on performance in 2000. Zucaro was the top performer on last year's list, with a 37 percent pay cut, while share price more than doubled.
But the industry's difficulties in 2001 will come home to roost in 2002 pay packages, with Aon's compensation committee already deciding against awarding bonuses.
"Absolutely, we pay on performance at Aon," said a company spokesman.
The executive whose pay hike was biggest relative to stock performance was William Foote of USG Corp., which entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June because of asbestos-related litigation.
Foote's cash pay spiked because he received a retention bonus to replace stock-based compensation that became worthless when share prices plunged after the bankruptcy filing.
Without an adequate retention program in place, competitors and others would cherry-pick the company's top talent, the company has said.
Naperville-based Nicor Chief Executive Thomas L. Fisher ranked third-worst on pay-for-performance, but a company spokesman said pay is pegged to more than stock appreciation.
"The stock performance is just one component of Mr. Fisher's pay," said spokesman Mark Knox, noting the compensation committee also considers leadership abilities, community activities and industry pay levels, among other things.
Tribune staff reporters Thomas A. Corfman, Melita Marie Garza, Bruce Japsen, Rob Kaiser and James P. Miller contributed to this report.