8 Companies That Most Owe Workers A Raise

10:56 AM, May 12, 2013   |    comments
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USA TODAY -- While CEOs of companies with the strongest financial results are usually paid hundreds of millions of dollars, rank-and-file employees at these corporations are often less fortunate. Only a small number of the best performing companies give raises or bonuses to most employees that are tied to earnings. Why shouldn't these companies spread the wealth?

Several of the American most successful companies have large numbers of low-paid employees. These people work in retail stores and call centers or clean hotel rooms. Some do not make a great deal more than the minimum wage.

However, their work is critical to the daily success of their companies. Despite their modest pay, they are often the face of their corporations. The senior management at companies like McDonald's and AT&T do not deal with customers - the clerks and restaurant staffs do.

Comcast's account executives who sell cable subscriptions do not make a great deal of money. Nevertheless, people who work at some parts of the company's NBC division are paid handsomely.Not all the divisions of these companies pay their employees poorly. Many of the people who work at Walt Disney's theme parks have modest salaries. However, employees at the company's ESPN and movie studio divisions generally do better.

Does a public company have an obligation to reward all of its employees if its earnings are particularly strong? No. But there is a strong case to be made that these workers deserve higher compensation when earnings improvements are so extraordinary that they give shareholders and management great returns.

Based on data provided by Capital IQ research firm of Standard & Poor's 500 companies, 24/7 Wall St. determined which corporations had high net income, high net profit margins, and major one-year growth in net income. I

Companies considered had to be in a customer-facing industry and have a large number of low-wage workers. We excluded banks because the data we used to measure profitability is inadequate for judging that industry's performance. Employment data by company are from finance.yahoo.com. CEO pay is from filings submitted by public companies with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Figures on compensation are from Glassdoor.com, which tracks self-reported data.

These are the companies that owe employees a raise.

1. Comcast:
• 1-yr. stock price change: 44.5%, 5-yr. stock price change: 93.6%
• Employees: 129,000, CEO compensation: $29.1 million
Comcast (CMCSA) is the largest cable company in the U.S. In fiscal 2012, Comcast's net income was $6.2 billion, a nearly 50% increase from the previous year. In the past 12 months, the company's stock rose by roughly 44%. In what many consider to be a smart move, the company diversified its operations by buying control of NBCUniversal two years ago. Earlier this year, it paid GE $16.7 billion for the remaining 49% ownership position. NBCUniversal operates the cable and broadcast television business, and the studio businesses dominated by Universal Pictures. Comcast customer care and direct sales jobs often pay modestly. The average salary for a Customer Account Executive at Comcast was just $13.39 an hour, according to Glassdoor.

2.Walt Disney:
• 1-yr. stock price change: 50.9%, 5-yr. stock price change: 93.5%
• Employees: 166,000, CEO compensation: $40.2 million
Walt Disney (DIS) founded the company in 1923 as The Disney Brothers Studio. The company has since expanded to include Walt Disney studios, Disney consumer products, a network television business, which includes ABC and a majority interest in ESPN and and the company's interactive division. Disney is widely regarded for its employee customer training. The company even has an operation called the Disney Institute, which trains management and workers from other companies. According to the company, BusinessWeek's Best Internships survey ranked Disney #11 on internship opportunities for undergraduates. Disney reported revenue of $42.3 billion in the most recent fiscal year, up 3% from the prior year, and net income was $5.7 billion, up 18%. The improvements were mostly driven by success from its parks and resorts division, which started with the founding of Disneyland in 1955 and employs a number of low-paid workers, including the the theme parks cast members.

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