Tag Archives | directors

Sharfman Pans Proxy Access Proposals by Public Pensions

Bernard S. Sharfman

Bernard S. Sharfman

Bernard Sharfman notified me of his post, Public-pension funds play with newest toy in corporate governance, saying: “As you know I am not a big fan of proxy access.” I was looking forward to a thoughtful analysis of the issues but that is not what I found. The R Street blog, where his piece was posted, apparently doesn’t allow comments. Don’t “free markets” and “real solutions” benefit from the free exchange of ideas? Since Sharfman has contributed to the CorpGov.net blog with more serious scholarship, I feel a greater obligation to point out his fallacies. Perhaps, with some dialogue, we will come closer to agreement. I would welcome his comments, as well as those from other readers. Continue Reading →

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Proxy Access Lite: Victories at Whole Foods, H&R Block

Proxy Access Road Building (photo by Erik Johansson)

Proxy Access Road Building (photo by Erik Johansson)

In response to proxy access proposals filed this year, both Whole Foods Market (WFM) and H&R Block (HRB) have adopted proxy access. While I had filed standard proposals seeking the ability of shareholders with 3% of shares held for 3 years to be able to nominate up to 25% of the board, both companies adopted bylaws allowing nominations only up to 20% and limiting nominating groups to 20, whereas my proposals had no such restrictions on the number of participants in nominating groups. Continue Reading →

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Proto Labs: Proxy Score 100

proto labsProto Labs Inc (NYSE:PRLB), one of the stocks in my portfolio, is an online and technology-enabled quick-turn manufacturer of custom parts for prototyping and short-run production. Their annual meeting is coming up on 5/20/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the votes of one fund when I checked and voted on 5/11/2015. I voted with management 100% of the time and assigned Proto Labs a proxy score of 100.

View Proxy Statement (It would have been nice to have links to index and headings). Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Proto Labs 2015 proxy to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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United-Guardian: Proxy Score 22

United-GuardianUnited-Guardian Inc. (UG:NASDAQ) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. The Company researches, develops, manufactures, and markets cosmetic ingredients, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, medical lubricants, health care products, and specialty industrial products in the United States, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, France, and internationally. Their annual meeting is coming up on 5/19/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org doesn’t track United-Guardian. Therefore, this analysis will be brief, since I am without my usual assessment research tools. I voted with management 22% of the time and assigned United-Guardian a proxy score of 22.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the United-Guardian 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Where are Women? Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity

Challenging Boardroom HomogeneityChallenging Boardroom Homogeneity: Strategies for Increasing Board Diversity – A Conversation with Aaron Dhir and Deborah Rhode.

Sponsored by the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, the Rock Center for Corporate GovernanceStanford Women on Boards, and the Vision 2020 Project.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
5:00 – 5:30pm Reception
5:30 – 6:30pm Presentation
Stanford Law School, Room 190 Continue Reading →

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Shareholder Activism Redux: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Shareholder ActivismIt’s impossible to read a newspaper, magazine or blog, or watch the news without hearing about shareholder activism.  It’s an industry unto itself with activist funds, attorneys who represent activists, activist defense lawyers, activist-focused investment bankers, activist conferences, activist newsletters, activist databases, and, of course, there are Messrs. Bebchuk and Lipton.

As a former institutional investor turned corporate governance author/advisor, I regularly get calls from media, and am cornered after speaking engagements to talk about activists.  It’s arguable that no topic in recent memory has been discussed by so many in the presence of so few facts.  It’s eerily reminiscent of when cloud computing first overtook the technology vernacular.  You know, when 8 out of 10 people who were earnestly discussing moving to the cloud, cloud infrastructure and so forth, had no idea what the “cloud” actually was. Continue Reading →

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Tractor Supply Company (TSCO): Proxy Score 100

Tractor SupplyTractor Supply Company (TSCO) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. They offer a comprehensive selection of merchandise, which include equine, livestock, pet and small animal products; hardware, truck, towing and tool products; seasonal products, including lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts and toys; maintenance products for agricultural and rural use, and work/recreational clothing and footwear. Their annual meeting is coming up on 5/5/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the votes of three funds when I checked and voted on 4/27/2015. I voted with management 100% of the time and assigned Tractor Supply a proxy score of 100.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Tractor Supply Company 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Change the System

Chelsea Clinton says Change the System

In an unscripted moment at a Clinton Foundation event in Miami, Chelsea mentioned a study that shows there are more men named John, Robert, William or James on corporate boards than there are total women corporate directors. Upon hearing that statistic, Hillary, who was on stage with Chelsea, joked, “sounds like we need to change our names!” Chelsea emphatically cut in to raucous applause: “No, we need to change the system.”

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Proxy Score 44

Johnson & JohnsonJohnson & Johnson (JNJ), which researches, develops, manufactures, and sells various products in the health care field worldwide, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 4/23/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the vote of three funds when I checked and voted on 4/17/2015.  I voted with management 44% of the time and assigned Johnson & Johnson a proxy score of 44.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Johnson & Johnson 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Lost in Translation: Directors & Cyber-Risks

Cyber-Risk

Cyber-Risk

Cyber-Risk Forum as Advertised by SVDX

Directors aren’t chief technology officers (CTOs): What is the “right” level of inquiry and diligence when it comes to cyber-threats? Where will boards be held responsible for cyber-failures, and what can they do to protect their shareholders and themselves from frivolous suits? What did the Target board fail to do that the Wyndham board did so well? The panel includes active public company board members, a corporate governance expert steeped in the ethos of Silicon Valley and a renowned cyber-liability insurance expert. The program will be both practical and interactive. Continue Reading →

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Groupthink in the Boardroom Context

GroupThink

GroupThink

Corporate boards are entrusted to make sound and informed business decisions on behalf of shareholders and to take their best interest into consideration. Decisions made at the board level are of strategic significance that may perhaps completely transform the future path of corporations. Examples of major strategic decisions include mergers and acquisitions, entering new markets, launching new product lines, selling off company assets, etc.

An effective board deliberation routine signals to the shareholders that the company directors are carrying out their duties diligently. In the absence of a proper board deliberation mechanism and a healthy and constructive exchange of diverse views across the table, the company and its shareholders could inevitably suffer the unfortunate consequence of losing out on great business opportunities, or being exposed to high levels of risk, or enduring financial difficulties, and ultimately risk losing shareholder value. Continue Reading →

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Last Day for Early Registration: Directors Forum 2015, San Diego

Directors ForumSign up today for the 10th anniversary, Directors Forum: Directors, Management & Shareholders in Dialogue, which brings together a unique blend of institutional investors, directors, management, regulators, consultants and contractors in an intimate setting designed for genuine access and interaction between speakers and attendees. January 25 – 27, 2015 in beautiful San Diego.

I attend several events each year that attempt to bring members of the corporate governance industrial complex together. This is definitely one of the best. I hope to see you there to discuss some of the most important issues in corporate governance.
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California Women Business Leaders: Discrimination Continues

stop discrimination nowUCD Study California Women Business LeadersThe rewards of corporate leadership accrue faster for men. Not only do women hold just one in nine of the executive and board positions in California’s top 400 public companies, an annual University of California, Davis, study shows that that the women in top executive roles are not being promoted to the highest levels, and earn less than their male counterparts.

Overall, women hold 11.5 percent of the highest-paid executive positions and board seats in the state’s 400 largest public companies — a 0.6 percent increase over last year, according to the UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders. The UC Davis Graduate School of Management has found an essentially flat trend line during the decade it has tracked the representation of women in these key decision-making roles. Together, the 400 companies represent more than $4.5 trillion in stock market value, up more than 30 percent over last year. Continue Reading →

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