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Autodesk Shareholders On the Hook for $27 Million in Employee Bonuses
Software company increasingly uses its stock as currency without counting it as an expense.
June 16, 2021
Instead of paying certain employee bonuses out-of-pocket, Autodesk (ADSK), a maker of software for the engineering and construction industries, has transferred a portion of the bonus liability to shareholders. In its latest 10-Q, Autodesk disclosed a new policy that allows certain employees to choose how their bonus is paid:

“...Autodesk granted 96,564 performance stock units, as part of a program offering certain employees the option to receive equity in lieu of the opportunity to receive an annual cash incentive award.”

At the current share price, the bonus equity is worth more than $27 million. It’s not certain that all of the allotted stock units will actually be awarded. The company must meet certain revenue and non-GAAP operating income targets first.

Like others, Autodesk is using its stock as currency. The latest quarterly report also reveals the company recently issued:

-16,786 common shares to employees who remain with the company following the close of an acquisition
-73,632 restricted common shares to certain employees in connection with an acquisition
-9,277 restricted common shares to employees in connection with a separate acquisition

In the quarter, Autodesk disclosed equity awards totalling more than 205,000 shares, or $58.2 million. If all of it is awarded and combined with the quarter’s stock based compensation expense of $115 million, existing shareholders will be diluted by approximately 0.3%. Though immaterial and partially offset by the company’s $142 million buyback in the quarter, the new equity awards will have a sizable impact if viewed through a different prism. Investors who treat stock based compensation as an expense— and don’t add it back to net income as Autodesk does— calculate a net income this quarter of $113.4 million, or 50.5% lower than the $229.2 million Autodesk reported.
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