McDonald's CEO sees big pay bump as restaurant chain rebound

NEW YORK - McDonald’s (MCD) CEO Steve Easterbrook received compensation of $15.4 million last year as he worked to refresh the company’s image and cut costs amid growing competition and changing tastes.

Easterbrook’s pay package included a salary of $1.3 million, stock and options worth $9 million, and incentive pay of $4.6 million. He also got perks such as contributions to a retirement plan and a car allowance. Easterbrook became chief executive in March 2015. For that year, his pay package was $7.9 million.

McDonald’s has announced a series of changes under Easterbrook, including the rollout of an all-day breakfast menu in the U.S. and plans to use fresh beef patties in Quarter Pounders. Under Easterbrook’s leadership, McDonald’s has also promised to use only cage-free eggs by 2025 and plans to quit using artificial preservatives in Chicken McNuggets.  

That hasn’t completely turned the tide for McDonald’s amid fierce competition. Customer visits to established U.S. locations fell last year, though people on average spent more per visit.  

“Some of our best customers just aren’t visiting us as much as they used to, and we know why,” Chief Strategy Officer Lucy Brady said in a March conference call to discuss McDonald’s latest earnings. “As customer expectations increased and evolved, our historical advantages of quality, convenience and value didn’t keep pace.”  

Despite such challenges, the company’s stock price has risen more than 9 percent this year, closing Thursday at $130.76. Wall Street has noticed. Credit Suisse analyst Jason West recently raised his price target on McDonald’s stock to $137, from $127.98, rating it as “Outperform.”