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Could Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Be Underpaid at $25.89 Million?

The company's stock price has risen sharply over the past year

Time Warner’s stock is surging. Its CEO’s pay? Not so much. CEO Jeff Bewkes made $25.89 million in 2012, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

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While $25 million might seem like a lot to most of us, it’s a slight dip from the previous two years when Bewkes earned $25.9 million and $26.3 million respectively.

Over that same time span, Time Warner’s stock has almost doubled in value. Time Warner started 2010 with its stock in the high 20s, cratering at $27.03 on Feb. 5.  As recently as June 1 of last year, the stock sat at $33.76.

Now? Time Warner closed on Monday at $58.35, and its share price has jumped more than 20 percent since the start of the year.

Time Warner notes its strong recent financial performance in the filing, as measured by its annual earnings per share. That figure sat at $1.42 in 2008. Since then? It’s grown each year, reaching $3.28 last year.

The vast majority of Bewkes' stock is tied to the performance of the company, so it would seem odd that he doesn't make more. The explanation? Stock options. He was granted the options when the company's share price was lower, so he doesn't reap the rewards of his own work.

Bewkes just made headlines for announcing that Time Warner would spin off Time Inc., its magazine division and its namesake. Most analysts on the street have praised the move, which focuses the company on its core film and TV assets.

Maybe someone will help him out in 2013.

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