Lilly CEO Ricks scores big pay bump to $21.3M, beating out other Big Pharma CEOs

Eli Lilly has been through considerable changes over the last several years under CEO David Ricks, and, in 2019, the drugmaker rewarded its helmsman handsomely for its performance.

After earning $17.23 million in total compensation back in 2018, the skipper scored a 23.5% pay bump last year. That increase took his overall compensation for 2019 to $21.28 million, Lilly said in its proxy filing

Ricks’ base salary stayed the same at $1.4 million, and, like in 2018, he didn’t score a bonus. His nonequity incentive pay actually sank to $2.92 million from $3.63 million.

But his stock awards grew 15% to $12.22 million, and his pension value grew by more than $3 million in to $4.66 million. Ricks’ other compensation stayed the same at $84,000. 

Overall, Ricks' 2019 pay package bested the compensation for Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, Roche CEO Severin Schwan, GSK CEO Emma Walmsley and Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan. U.S. CEOs do tend to score higher compensation than their European counterparts, and Ricks' pay did fall short of Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky's $25 million.

As for its compensation rationale, Lilly said it exceeded targets for earnings per share and stock price in 2019. The company fell just shy of its revenue goal and beat its pipeline advancement target.  

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Lilly scored approvals for new meds Baqsimi and Reyvow—plus won additional uses for existing meds—and advanced a range of pipeline candidates, the company said in the filing. 

Ricks has served as Lilly’s CEO since the start of 2017. Since then, he's taken the company through a big restructuring aimed at cutting costs and refocused the drugmaker around its new drugs.

Five years ago, 95% of Eli Lilly’s medicines were based off of old drugs, industry analysts with Vantage said earlier this year. By the end of 2019, the number had fallen to 51%.   

Lilly's new drugs launched since 2014 include Type 2 diabetes med Trulicity, immunology drug Taltz, migraine-fighter Emgality and more. The company also launched acute migraine treatment Reyvow in January.

RELATED: Lilly gears up for 'top-tier' growth to 2025 thanks to its new launches 

When Lilly reported fourth-quarter results, Chief Financial Officer Josh Smiley said the company is positioned for “top-tier” revenue growth across biopharma thanks to its “relatively young” portfolio. Plus, the company had also been through some costly patent expirations in recent years, he added.