Pixar Animation Studios granted stock options to key executives four times since 1997 on dates that coincided with the company’s lowest stock price, company filings show.
The grants have not been questioned by federal regulators and the company, which was bought by The Walt Disney Co. earlier this year, has not said it is concerned about the accuracy of its financial records.
But option grants have come under increased scrutiny over practices where companies have manipulated the dates to provide executives with the highest possible profit from the eventual sale of the stock.
Companies such as Apple Computer Inc., whose chief executive Steve Jobs also ran Pixar, have said they uncovered “irregularities” relating to options grants and may have to restate past financial results.
At Apple, some of those options were granted to Jobs, but were canceled before he realized any gains.
Tuesday, Cablevision Systems Corp., a New York-area cable TV systems operator, said it would delay filing its second-quarter earnings and restate prior results because of a review into the pricing and timing of stock options.
Dozens of U.S. companies have disclosed their stock options practices are being investigated by the Department of Justice or the SEC.
Two officials of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. were charged with securities fraud relating to the practice of backdating options.
Jobs did not receive any of the options grants from Pixar. Instead, they were given to John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and other executives.
Pixar spokesman Tom Sarris declined comment Tuesday.
“We do not comment on personnel compensation,” he said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also declined comment and would not say whether the agency was examining Pixar’s options granting practices.
In 2000, Lasseter received options to buy 1 million shares over the course of a new 10-year employee agreement. The grants were dated Dec. 6, 2000 and were priced at the previous day’s closing price — that year’s lowest closing price.
Other Pixar executives have also received options dated to coincide with Pixar’s lowest closing price as far back as 1997, company filings show.