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QSR Feature
Bites Out of the Bottom Line
They are the big cheeses at the country’s biggest quick-service restaurant chains. So what kind of dough are the QSR 50’s top executives collecting?
Money earned by fast food executives.

Between 2006 and 2007 the checks written to CEOs in every industry super-sized. The median compensation for leaders of S&P 500 companies rose 23.57 percent, according to a study by The Corporate Library, a corporate data research firm.

But now, as the cost of everything from beef to buns continues to rise while consumers hold a tighter grip on their wallets, QSR took a look at what kind of salaries the top quick-serves’ leaders are taking home and what they are doing to earn their generous keep. Average total cash compensation received in 2007 by the CEOs on our list topped $8.6 million. With stock options factored in, each made upward of $10 million. Is such compensation warranted? Read on and decide for yourself.

James A. Skinner

Age: 63

title: CEO/Vice Chairman/Director (CEO since 2004)

company: McDonald’s Corp.

hq: Oak Brook, Illinois

2007 Total Cash Compensation: $9,443,486

2007 Total Stock Options: $8,960,344

When Jim Skinner was elected as McDonald’s CEO in 2004, the Golden Arches were slumping. The CEO of the world’s No. 1 restaurant company has since returned the brand to its roots, concentrating on selling the staples at price points consumers expect from the fast-food leader. The brand’s Value Meal items keep bringing customers back, despite the slowing economy.

That new “old” strategy is paying off. McDonald’s ended 2007 with record-high sales of $22.8 billion—up 9 percent from the year before.

And shareholders are “lovin’ it,” enjoying a 25 percent, three-year compounded annual return that’s more than double the three-year return of the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials.

Skinner’s $9 million–plus salary for 2007 was 35 percent less than he was paid the year before. But that can be attributed to a hefty three-year performance bonus he received in 2006. Taking that out of consideration, Skinner’s pay increased 28 percent.

Burger King

John W. Chidsey

Age: 45

title: CEO/Director (CEO since 2006)

company: Burger King Holdings Inc.

hq: Miami

2007 Cash Compensation: $4,147,081

2007 Total Stock Options: $12,924,346

Like Skinner, John Chidsey has masterminded a fast-food turnaround. Burger King, which was considered a floundering chain just a few years ago, announced its 2007 fiscal revenues were up 9 percent to a record $2.2 billion.

The jump in the company’s stock price last year was the real Whopper at 68 percent.

Chidsey is now focusing on the rest of the world. Burger King entered four new countries last year, opening 441 new stores globally. That’s a 26 percent increase from the year before. His menu strategy—introducing both upscale products like the new Steakhouse Burger as well as deals like the $1 Value Menu—appeal to the more cash-conscious consumer.

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