Despite disappointing sales and flat earnings, Jack in the Box Inc. awarded its chief executive a 36% boost in salary and bonus and nearly doubled his stock options in fiscal 2002, according to a proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Robert J. Nugent received $720,000 in salary plus $437,400 in bonus, part of his total compensation of $1.2 million, for the fiscal year ended Sept. 29, according to the statement, filed Jan. 13. He also received options for 113,000 shares of stock.
For the 2001 fiscal year, Nugent was paid a salary of $677,500 and awarded a bonus of $174,200 and options for 59,600 shares of stock.
The company reported earnings for the 2002 fiscal year of $83 million, or $2.07 a diluted share, essentially unchanged from the $82.2 million, or $2.06 a share, before a $1.8-million charge against earnings in the previous year.
During fiscal 2002, Jack in the Box's same-store sales -- a key measure of restaurant health -- dipped by 0.8%.
Brian Luscomb, a company spokesman, defended the pay hike Monday, saying that the compensation was competitive with that at other companies of comparable size in the industry. He said the bonus was based on the firm's having achieved several operating goals. .
"In September we released details of our strategic plan for the next five years and how we plan to evolve into a national company," he said. "So I think it's reasonable to look beyond the bottom line of our income statement for '02 in evaluating the CEO's contribution to our business."
Jack in the Box, which has about 1,870 restaurants, lowered earnings estimates for the current fiscal year.
The company's shares closed down 42 cents Friday, at $16.52, on the New York Stock Exchange.