J&J CEO earns $29M and high praise for a grueling year

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) CEO Bill Weldon (photo) saw his pay package slip a bit last year as a rapid-fire blitz of product recalls helped taint the company’s reputation and overall sales declined for a second year in a row. But he still earned close to $29 million and warm praise from the board, which cited his leadership as a key asset.

"The board believes that Mr. Weldon generally met expectations during 2010, a year with many successes and very visible challenges." He took home $28.7 million in total compensation, down 7 percent from the $30.8 million he earned in 2009. The board granted Weldon, 62, a 3 percent pay hike for merit in February.

However, not everyone is so quick to praise Weldon--especially after the company shed $18.5 billion in market value since the beginning of 2009. Product recalls have hit medical devices as well as key products like Tylenol, leading some analysts to question the corporate culture that could lead to such embarrassing headlines.

Reuters characterized the board’s move as an apparent “disconnect with a steady stream of bad news.”

"Obviously there are some endemic problems at the company that need to be addressed," Michael Dauchot, a senior analyst at RCM Capital Management, tells Reuters. But the board isn't pinning the blame on Weldon. "The company's decentralized strategy approach to business has kind of backfired on them."

- check out the story from the Wall Street Journal
- see the Reuters report