Stock options are usually issued to corporate executives in an attempt to align the interests of those individuals with the interests of the company's shareholders. The options are designed to provide a large payoff to the executives when the company's stock price increases substantially above the exercise price of the options. However, in those periods when a company performs poorly, its stock price may decrease to a level below the exercise price of outstanding options. When this occurs, the options are said to be “underwater.” Because options provide a benefit only as the stock price increases, underwater options will often lack the motivational incentive that they were designed to create. This creates a dilemma to the compensation committee of the company—i.e., modify the compensation agreements of the individuals in charge during the period of poor stock price performance or risk losing those executives to other companies. One such modification that is often considered in these circumstances is a stock‐option repricing program. Here, underwater stock options are exchanged for new options containing a lower exercise price. These programs experienced increased popularity during the 1990s despite the opposition that arose from critics who claimed that repricing programs “rewarda” executives for poor performance. This instructional case requires students to evaluate the appropriateness of a stock‐option repricing program for the executives and other employees of Cendant Corp. This company experienced a severe decrease in its stock price during 1998 as a result of many factors including an accounting scandal, failed expansion efforts, and poor market conditions. In addition, the case material can also be used to introduce students to the accounting implications of stock‐option repricing programs as modified by Interpretation No. 44, issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board in March 2000.
Cendant Corp.: A Case Study Examining the Compensation and Accounting Issues Involved in a Stock‐Option Repricing Program
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Thomas J. Vogel; Cendant Corp.: A Case Study Examining the Compensation and Accounting Issues Involved in a Stock‐Option Repricing Program. Issues in Accounting Education 1 August 2001; 16 (3): 409–441. doi: https://doi.org/10.2308/iace.2001.16.3.409
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