No one could've known it then, but 2009's stock market bust could be a boon for some executives' pay: Many were awarded options when their company's shares were so low that their value skyrocketed as stock prices revived. These big-company CEOs have seen the biggest gains, according to an analysis by Equilar.
Note: Total value of options represent the intrinsic value of the awards. Intrinsic value was calculated by taking the difference between the stock price and the exercise price then multiplying it by the number of options awarded. All stock prices were taken as of May 21, 2010. The total value represents hypothetical gains, and the executive will not realize any actual value until the award is exercised. Equilar, an executive compensation research firm, looked only at options granted during the 2009 calendar year at public U.S. companies with revenue over $10 billion.