Down 73% in a year: Appen shares sink again after CEO vests performance rights

Executives get free shares despite shareholder wealth destruction.

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It certainly has not been a great time to own Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) shares.

Over the last 12 months, the struggling artificial intelligence (AI) data services company's shares have lost approximately 73% of their value.

To put that into context, if you had made a $20,000 investment a year ago, you'd have just $5,400 left.

Whereas if you had invested those same funds into the popular Betashares Nasdaq 100 ETF (ASX: NDQ), you would have seen your investment grow 45% to $29,000.

That's a massive $23,600 difference in value!

In light of this, the company's shareholders may not be best pleased to learn that its newly appointed CEO, Ryan Kolln, who was COO for much of the last 12 months, has just converted a large number of performance rights into Appen with zero cost.

Appen CEO picks up free shares

According change of director's interest notice, Kolln vested 166,850 performance rights into the same number of Appen shares on 18 March without spending a cent.

These shares have a market value of $111,789.50 at the current share price.

Though, had Appen's performance not been so dreadful over the last 12 months, those shares would have been worth considerably more.

A year ago, its shares were fetching $2.31, which would have given them a market value of $384,799.80.

Nevertheless, it begs the question, why would a company reward its executives with performance rights when they have destroyed so much shareholder wealth in recent years?

As a reminder, the Appen share price was trading as high as $35+ in 2020. Since then it has shed 98% of its value and trades at just 67 cents today.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has positions in BetaShares Nasdaq 100 ETF. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Appen and BetaShares Nasdaq 100 ETF. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended BetaShares Nasdaq 100 ETF. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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