Lilly CEO Lechleiter nabs $16.6M in 2015 pay

Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter has suffered some tough years this decade, as top sellers such as Zyprexa went off patent and a series of R&D setbacks put a crimp in the company's plans to fill those gaps. But 2015 turned out better than expected--and it shows in Lechleiter's pay.

Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter

The CEO racked up $16.6 million in compensation for the year, with hefty increases in stock awards and incentive pay. Those increases were big enough, in fact, to offset the big change in pension value that jacked up his 2014 package.

More than offset, in fact. Lechleiter's total for 2015 was $2 million higher than in 2014, when his compensation totted up at $14.5 million.

Lechleiter's incentive pay doubled to $3.6 million from $1.8 million, after Lilly ($LLY) slightly beat its revenue goal--at $20.6 million--and earnings per share topped its $3.19 target by 30 cents at $3.49.

The company's compensation committee also boosted his bonus payout on better-than-expected advancements in its pipeline. The company pushed 5 drug candidates into Phase III testing and launched its new Portrazza last year. The company also won 6 new approvals on already marketed meds.

Meanwhile, his stock awards jumped to $11.4 million from $6.75 million--an increase of 69%--on the company's stock gains from 2013-2015, when the shares moved up by 73%. Lilly's goal had been 19% for the period.

Lechleiter's base salary remained the same at $1.5 million. His other compensation--$90,000--came in the form of matching 401(k) grants.

So far, 2016 is a mixed bag. The company unveiled disappointing revenue guidance for the year, with the low end even lower than 2015's; market-watchers had expected $21.37 billion, but Lilly said it's looking at $20.2 billion to $20.7 billion. But analysts also noted that Lilly tends to lowball its guidance, and its 2015 results beat forecasts. Meanwhile, Lilly lost a patent fight in Europe over its cancer drug Alimta, putting sales there in danger of a drop off.

On the marketing side, Lilly's year is shaping up well. The company's psoriasis med Taltz, pegged as a potential blockbuster by 2020, nabbed FDA approval last month. And its diabetes drug Jardiance, sold in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, is one step closer to a hoped-for marketing boost; last year, it delivered "amazing" cardiovascular benefits in an outcomes trial, a first for a drug in that field. In January, the FDA accepted its application for a label expansion based on that data.

- read Lilly's proxy statement

Special Report: The top 20 highest-paid biopharma CEOs - John Lechleiter, Eli Lilly