American Express Co. Best Gainer in the DOW for 2009 (NYSE:AXP)

American Express

How about them apples, turns out American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) was the Dow Jones' top gainer in 2009.  Hat tip to SeekingAlpha.com as they point out that CEO Kenneth Chenault benefits from a 60% raise - to $2 million a year - as well as some in-the-money options. The company's 8-K says it's refocusing pay more on base salary rather than bonuses.

AXPDuring the past 12 months American Express Co. (AXP) shares have increased 128%, from the $16 range to current levels of $38 and change.  During the past two weeks AXP has got the thumbs up from RBC Capital who raised their price target on AMEX shares to $31 and an upgrade from Ladenburg Thalmann. Ladenburg Thalmann upgraded American Express (AXP) shares this week from Sell to Neutral, and increased their price target from $32 to $40.

Here is the 8-K published today that has the compenstation information for AMEX's officers:
Form 8-K for AMERICAN EXPRESS CO - 29-Jan-2010

Change in Directors or Principal Officers -- Item 5.02 Departure of Directors or Certain Officers;
Election of Directors; Appointment of Certain Officers; Compensatory Arrangements of Certain Officers
(e) On January 25, 2010, the Compensation and Benefits Committee (the "Committee") of the Board of Directors of American Express Company (the "Company") approved increases to the annual base salaries (effective February 1, 2010) of the following "named executive officers" (as determined by reference to the Company's proxy statement in respect of its 2009 annual meeting of shareholders):

- The base salary of Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, has been increased from $1,250,000 per annum to $2,000,000 per annum;

- The base salary of Edward P. Gilligan, Vice Chairman of the Company, has been increased from $1,100,000 per annum to $1,450,000 per annum;

- The base salary of Stephen J. Squeri, Group President - Global Services and Chief Information Officer of the Company, has been increased from $750,000 per annum to $1,000,000 per annum; and

- The base salary of Daniel T. Henry, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company, has been increased from $700,000 per annum to $850,000 per annum.

The increases in base salary reflect the Committee's review of the Company's executive compensation program. The Committee approved a shift in compensation mix by increasing base salary, while reducing the aggregate compensation that generally could be earned through annual incentive awards and the Company's cash-based portfolio grant program. The Company's overall executive compensation program for named executive officers continues to be weighted toward longer-term incentives, particularly stock-based awards.

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