A tale of two corporate proxies

Bottomline execs see big raises for year, but the story is different at Standex

The top five executives at Portsmouth-based Bottomline Technologies Inc. received a total $18.9 million compensation package in fiscal 2019, a 32% increase from a year ago, as the company’s $9.4 million in profits for the year were basically flat.

Meanwhile, at Salem-based Standex International Corp., their top executives earned a total of $7.4 million, the same as a year earlier, while its profits of $68 million nearly doubled.

It’s the time of year for proxy statements, filed by companies whose fiscal year ended at the start of July, and when shareholders get a chance to see how companies reward their leadership.

Bottomline, a financial technology firm, rewards growth over profit, particularly when it comes to subscriptions to its cloud-based services as opposed to its legacy software sales.

The company has reported a profit (at least according to general accepted accounting principles) in two of the last five years. But revenue has been increasing steadily, most recently to $422 million (a 7% increase) in fiscal 2019, with $296 million coming from subscriptions (a 13% increase.)

CEO Robert Eberle who has headed the Portsmouth-based company since 2006, received a compensation package of $8.4 million – a 25% boost – with $7.8 million in stock awards. Eberle’s $90,000 cash bonus (on top of his $392,000 salary) could have been $307,000, since Bottomline achieved 98% of its revenue target and 91% of the operating income target and he “demonstrated a high level of achievement against key management objectives,” reads the proxy.

Eberle, however, wanted to “allocate funds more broadly to our employee base and to other corporate initiatives.”

After Eberle, the top paid executives at Bottomline was Nigel Savory, managing director of Europe ($5.3 million, a 189% hike), Norman Deluca, managing director of banking solutions ($2.2 million, a 47% increase) and chief financial officer Richard Booth (also $2.2 million, a 34% hike).

At Standex, an industrial conglomerate, the big profits were partially due to the $20 million sale of the company

s unprofitable cooking division and a $20 million reduction in its federal tax bill. Revenues, at $792 million, were up a modest 2.7%.

The executives’ pay for the year reflect that performance all. CEO and President David Dunbar, who led the way with a $3.2 million compensation package, actually took a 5% pay cut, followed by Paul C. Burns, vice president of strategy & business development, whose pay increased 19%, to $1.1 million. Standex other executives each received under $1 million in compensation, all down from last year.

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