SunAmerica Inc. Chairman and CEO Eli Broad is L.A.'s highest-paid executive and he did it, again, by beating the S & P; 500 index.

Broad's stock-based incentive plan, approved by the board and shareholders in 1994, awards him long-term grants only if SunAmerica exceeds the performance of the S & P; 500.

And to Broad's good fortune, SunAmerica has outperformed the index for the past five years. According to company figures, $100 invested in SunAmerica in 1992 would have yielded $800 by 1997, but that same $100 would have returned only $257 on the S & P; 500 and $353 on the S & P; Financial index.

That performance boosted Broad's total compensation to $47 million last year, up from $18 million in 1994. He has been granted more options as the company has performed better and better, which suits him just fine.

"My job as CEO is to continue the company's growth and see to it that shareholders do better than the S & P; 500," Broad said.

Broad is accustomed to topping the chart in the compensation category he was the second highest-paid executive in 1996 (behind Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner) and was in the No. 1 spot in 1995.

With his earnings amounting to 11 percent of SunAmerica's net income last year, Broad is not necessarily a bargain. (By contrast, total compensation for Eisner was 0.54 percent.)

But Wall Street seems to approve. "He's made a lot of people a lot of money," said Michael Blumstein, an analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. "I don't think he has any unhappy shareholders. He's made shareholders wealthy as well."

It's not uncommon for a top executive to have his compensation tied to the company's stock. But while Eisner hit the No. 1 spot in 1996 by cashing in his options, Broad pulled off the feat in 1997 by holding on to them.

Broad did not exercise any of the 1.75 million options he was granted last year, said Chris Nixon, the company's associate general counsel. Even so, the options propelled Broad's long-term compensation figure to $43.6 million based on an annual stock appreciation rate of 5 percent.

Combined with $600,000 in salary and $2.8 million in bonuses, Broad's total compensation package is valued at $47 million.

Broad, who recently hosted a Democratic fund-raiser attended by President Clinton at his Brentwood home, was a millionaire by the age of 30. He co-founded homebuilder Kaufman & Broad, which was acquired by Sun Life Insurance Co. in 1971 and began offering an array of financial and retirement services. In 1989, the company spun off its core housing business.

Broad sold out the majority of his interest in Kaufman & Broad to concentrate on building a new company, SunAmerica, now a $48 billion financial service empire, with 1997 net income of $422.3 million.

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