Employee Benefit Plans
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2020
|Retirement Benefits [Abstract]|
|Employee Benefit Plans||Employee Benefit Plans
Substantially all of our employees are eligible to participate in a 401(k) plan. Contributions by us to our 401(k) plans were approximately $8.4 million, $8.9 million and $9.2 million in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Stock Compensation Plans
We currently have two active stock compensation plans: the Sonic Automotive, Inc. 2012 Stock Incentive Plan (the “2012 Plan”) and the Sonic Automotive, Inc. 2012 Formula Restricted Stock and Deferral Plan for Non-Employee Directors (the “2012 Formula Plan”). Collectively, these plans are referred to as the “Stock Plans.” During the second quarter of 2012, our stockholders voted to approve the 2012 Plan and the 2012 Formula Plan, with authorization for issuance of 2,000,000 shares of Class A Common Stock and 300,000 shares of Class A Common Stock, respectively. During the second quarter of 2015, our stockholders voted to increase the number of shares of Class A Common Stock authorized for issuance under the 2012 Plan from 2,000,000 shares to 4,000,000 shares. During the second quarter of 2017, our stockholders voted to increase the number of shares of Class A Common Stock authorized for issuance under the 2012 Formula Plan from 300,000 shares to 500,000 shares. During the second quarter of 2019, our stockholders voted to increase the number of shares of Class A Common Stock authorized for issuance under the 2012 Plan from 4,000,000 shares to 6,000,000 shares.
The Stock Plans were adopted by our Board of Directors in order to attract and retain key personnel. Under the 2012 Plan, options to purchase shares of Class A Common Stock may be granted to key employees of Sonic and its subsidiaries and to officers, directors, consultants and other individuals providing services to us. The options are granted at the fair market value of our Class A Common Stock at the date of grant, typically vest over a period ranging from six months to three years, are exercisable upon vesting and typically expire 10 years from the date of grant. The 2012 Plan also authorizes the issuance of restricted stock awards and restricted stock units. Restricted stock award and restricted stock unit grants under the 2012 Plan typically vest over a period ranging from to three years, but may be longer in certain cases. The 2012 Formula Plan provides for grants of restricted stock awards or deferred restricted stock units to non-employee directors and restrictions on those shares expire on the earlier of the first anniversary of the grant date or the day before the next annual meeting of our stockholders, except to the extent that such grant is considered an interim grant for a newly elected non-employee director, in which case, restrictions on those shares expire on the first anniversary of the grant date. Individuals holding non-vested restricted stock awards granted under the 2012 Plan and the 2012 Formula Plan have voting rights and certain grants may receive dividends on non-vested shares. Individuals holding restricted stock units or options granted under the 2012 Plan do not have voting or dividend rights. We issue new shares of Class A Common Stock to employees and directors to satisfy our option exercise and stock grant obligations. To offset the effects of these transactions, we have historically repurchased shares of our
Class A Common Stock after considering cash flow, market conditions and other factors; however, there is no guarantee that this will occur in future periods.
A summary of the status of the stock options related to the Stock Plans is presented below:
We recognize compensation expense within selling, general and administrative expenses related to the stock options granted under the Stock Plans. $2.3 million of stock option compensation expense was recognized during 2020 and no stock option compensation expense was recognized during 2019 or 2018.
A summary of the status of the non-vested restricted stock award and restricted stock unit grants related to the Stock Plans is presented below:
During 2020, approximately 2,273,000 stock options were awarded to our executive officers and other key associates under the 2012 Plan. These awards vest over three years. The majority of the restricted stock units awarded to executive officers and other key associates are subject to forfeiture, in whole or in part, based upon continuation of employment and compliance with any restrictive covenants contained in an agreement between us and the respective executive officer or other key associate. Also in 2020, approximately 69,000 restricted stock awards were granted to our Board of Directors pursuant to the 2012 Formula Plan and vest on the earlier of the first anniversary of the grant date or the day before the next annual meeting of our stockholders, except to the extent that such grant is considered an interim grant for a newly elected non-employee director, in which case, restrictions on those shares expire on the first anniversary of the grant date. We recognized compensation expense within selling, general and administrative expenses related to stock options, restricted stock units and restricted stock awards of approximately $11.7 million, $10.8 million and $11.9 million in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Tax benefits recognized related to restricted stock unit and restricted stock award compensation expense were approximately $2.5 million, $2.9 million and $3.0 million for 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Total compensation cost related to non-vested restricted stock units and restricted stock awards not yet recognized at December 31, 2020 was approximately $28.3 million and is expected to be recognized over a weighted-average period of approximately 5.5 years.
Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan
On December 7, 2009, the Compensation Committee of our Board of Directors approved and adopted the Sonic Automotive, Inc. Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan (the “SERP”) to be effective as of January 1, 2010. The SERP is a non-qualified deferred compensation plan that is unfunded for federal tax purposes. The SERP included 13 active or former members of senior management at December 31, 2020. The purpose of the SERP is to attract and retain key members of management by providing a retirement benefit in addition to the benefits provided by our tax-qualified and other non-qualified deferred compensation plans.
The following table sets forth the status of the SERP:
(1)As of December 31, 2020, approximately $0.4 million is included in other accrued liabilities and approximately $22.1 million is included in other long-term liabilities in the accompanying consolidated balance sheet as of such date. As of December 31, 2019, approximately $0.4 million is included in other accrued liabilities and approximately $17.6 million is included in other long-term liabilities in the accompanying consolidated balance sheet as of such date.
The following table provides the cost components of the SERP:
The weighted-average assumptions used to determine the benefit obligation and net periodic benefit costs consist of:
The estimated future benefit payments expected to be paid for each of the next five years and the sum of the payments expected for the next five years thereafter are:
Multiemployer Benefit Plan
Four of our dealership subsidiaries in northern California currently make fixed-dollar contributions to the Automotive Industries Pension Plan (the “AI Pension Plan”) pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between our subsidiaries and the International Association of Machinists (the “IAM”) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the “IBT”). The AI Pension Plan is a “multiemployer plan” as defined under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, and our four dealership subsidiaries are among approximately 153 employers that are obligated to make contributions to the AI Pension Plan pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with the IAM, the IBT and other unions. The risks of participating in this multiemployer pension plan are different from single-employer plans in the following aspects:
•assets contributed to the multiemployer pension plan by one employer may be used to provide benefits to employees of other participating employers;
•if a participating employer stops contributing to the plan, the unfunded obligations of the plan may be borne by the remaining participating employers; and
•if we choose to stop participating in the multiemployer pension plan, we may be required to pay the plan an amount based on the underfunded status of the plan, referred to as a withdrawal liability.
Our participation in the AI Pension Plan for 2020, 2019 and 2018 is outlined in the table below. The “EIN/Pension Plan Number” column provides the Employee Identification Number (the “EIN”). Unless otherwise noted, the most recent Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the “PPA”) zone status available in the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 is for the plan’s year-end at December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The zone status is based on information that we received from the AI Pension Plan. Among other factors, plans in the red zone are generally less than 65% funded (“Critical Status”), plans in the yellow zone are less than 80% funded and plans in the green zone are at least 80% funded. The “FIP/RP Status - Pending/Implemented” column indicates plans for which a Financial Improvement Plan (“FIP”) or a Rehabilitation Plan (“RP”) is either pending or has been implemented. The last column lists the expiration dates of the collective bargaining agreements to which the plan is subject. The number of employees covered by the AI Pension Plan decreased 5.5% from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2019 and decreased 18.6% from December 31, 2019 to December 31, 2020, affecting the period-to-period comparability of the contributions for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
Our participating dealership subsidiaries were not listed in the AI Pension Plan’s Form 5500 as providing more than 5% of the total contributions for the plan years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. In June 2006, we received information that the AI Pension Plan was substantially underfunded as of December 31, 2005. In July 2007, we received updated information that the AI Pension Plan continued to be substantially underfunded as of December 31, 2006, with the amount of such underfunding increasing versus year end 2005. In March 2008, the Board of Trustees of the AI Pension Plan notified participants,participating employers and local unions that the AI Pension Plan’s actuary, in accordance with the requirements of the PPA, had issued a certification that the AI Pension Plan was in Critical Status effective with the plan year commencing January 1, 2008. In conjunction with the AI Pension Plan’s Critical Status, the Board of Trustees of the AI Pension Plan adopted a RP that implemented reductions or eliminations of certain adjustable benefits that were previously available under the AI Pension Plan (including some forms of early retirement benefits, and disability and death benefits, among other items), and also implemented a requirement on all participating employers to increase employer contributions to the AI Pension Plan for a seven-year period which commenced in 2013. As of April 2015, the AI Pension Plan’s actuary certified that the AI Pension Plan remained in Critical Status for the plan year commencing January 1, 2015. According to publicly available information, in September 2016, the AI Pension Plan made a formal application for approval of suspension of benefits with the U.S. Treasury Department, which, if approved by the U.S. Treasury Department, would have implemented a benefit reduction effective July 1, 2017 for participants in the AI Pension Plan. The filing included an Actuarial Certification of Plan Status as of January 1, 2016 that the AI Pension Plan previously filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on March 30, 2016, which reported that the AI Pension Plan was in critical and declining status as of January 1, 2016 and further notified that the AI Pension Plan is making the scheduled progress in meeting the requirements of the plan’s previously adopted RP. The September 2016 filing with the U.S. Treasury Department also included an Actuarial Certification of Plan Solvency as of July 1, 2016 with the actuarial firm’s projection that the proposed suspensions of benefits are reasonably estimated to enable the AI Pension Plan to avoid insolvency assuming the proposed suspensions of benefits continue indefinitely. In May 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department denied the application to suspend benefits but noted that it remains willing to discuss the issues presented in the September 2016 formal application for suspension of benefits. As of April 2019, the AI Pension Plan’s actuary certified that the AI Pension Plan remained in critical status for the plan year commencing January 1, 2019 and is projected to become insolvent in 2031. Under applicable federal law, any employer contributing to a multiemployer pension plan that completely ceases participating in the plan while the plan is underfunded is subject to payment of such employer’s assessed share of the aggregate unfunded vested benefits of the plan. In certain circumstances, an employer can be assessed withdrawal liability for a partial withdrawal from a multiemployer pension plan. In addition, if the financial condition of the AI Pension Plan were to continue to deteriorate to the point that the AI Pension Plan is forced to terminate and be administered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (the “PBGC”), the participating employers could be subject to assessments by the PBGC to cover the participating employers’ assessed share of the unfunded vested benefits. If any of these adverse events were to occur in the future, it could result in a substantial withdrawal liability assessment to us.
The entire disclosure for retirement benefits.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/exampleRef