Archive | Proxy Votes

Netflix Approach to Governance: One-Sided

Netflix Approach to Governance: Genuine Transparency with the Board (download) by David F. Larcker and Brian Tayan takes a look at one aspect of corporate governance at Netflix and finds “a radically different approach to information sharing” by management with the Board. Shareholders are largely left out of the equation.

Netflix Approach to Governance: Management

Netflix Approach to Governance has the appearance of a balanced look at how management shares information with the Board. There is no suggestion the approach can be widely copied. Says Larker,

I think it would be hard to put this type of system in place at older and more mature organizations. Innovative organizations that want and need the insights from board members can clearly adapt this type of approach. You need a CEO who wants a high level of discussion about strategy, etc., and is open to alternative points of view.

Transparency works at Netflix, at least in part, because CEO Reed Hastings understands board members would not have the confidence to make tough calls unless they have a better understanding of the company.

Transparency is hard to argue against, unless it leads to directors leaking information that reaches competitors. Larcker and Tayan interviewed CEO Reed Hastings and most of the board members. They describe two key features of what they appear to believe is remmanagement transparency.

Board members attend monthly and quarterly senior management meetings as observers. Communications to the board take the shape of approximately 30-page memos that are heavy on analysis and contain links to all relevant data on the company’s internal computer systems. (Another Netflix Disruption: A Transparent Board)

More frequent meetings with senior staff and more information allows Netflix directors to work more effectively, since they are better able to assess strategic developments. It is hard to tell what impact transparency is having on the company but,

Netflix has been enormously successful over the last five years. Revenues have nearly tripled, increasing to $11.69 billion from $4.4 billion at the end of 2013, while the market cap soared to $133 billion from $4.4 billion.

Directors like the approach.

The overall tone Reed has set, really from early days, is around transparency. … There is no editorializing. There’s no censorship.

It’s just a deep desire to hear rational, well-argued pros and cons of any decision.

No censorship and frank discussions between management and board; if other companies are not operating that way, why not? Equally important, why does that approach not carry through to the relationship between shareholders and the board?

Netflix Approach to Governance: Shareholders

Their research, part of the informative Stanford Closer Look Series, begins with the following sentence:

The hallmark of good corporate governance is an independent-minded board of directors to oversee management and represent the interests of shareholders.

The only other significant reference to shareholders comes later in the following sentence:

While fiduciary rules allow directors to rely exclusively on information provided by management, dynamics such as these can reduce the quality of that information and impair their ability to make good decisions on behalf of shareholders.

Even through the law allows directors to rely on what the CEO and other senior executives tell them, directors make better decisions when the company is more transparent – when they can observe meetings further down the chain and have more direct access to company relevant data. Yet, the Netflix approach to governance appears one-sided. Transparency and dialogue are missing when it comes to management and shareholders.

As I pointed out in a recent post, Netflix has repeatedly ignored shareholder votes. (Will Netflix Ignore Stockholders Again?) While proxy proposals are generally precatory, most companies implement those receiving a majority vote and often those that do not. The Netflix approach to governance appears to ignore proxy votes whenever legally possible.

  • In 2014 a majority voted to declassify the board and to require a majority vote to elect directors.
  • In 2015 similar proposals were voted and won.  A majority of shareholders also voted against director Barton, who, although he lost, was up for reelection this year.
  • In 2016 a majority of shares were voted in favor of proxy access, reducing supermajority vote requirements, and declassifying the board.
  • In 2017 a majority of shares were voted in favor of proxy access, to declassify the board, to require a majority vote for electing directors and to eliminate all supermajority voting requirements. As far as I know, none of those proposals were implemented by the Board.
  • In 2018 a majority of shares were voted in favor of the following:
    • Reduce Ownership Threshold for Shareholders to Call Special Meeting (57%)
    • Adopt Proxy Access Right (58%)
    • Provide Right to Act by Written Consent (52%)
    • Adopt Simple Majority Vote (85%)
    • Amend Bylaws (72%) This was a binding proposal to require directors in uncontested elections to be elected by a majority of shares voted

Given the Netflix approach to governance with regard to shareholders, I expect the only proposal that will be adopted from this year is the binding proposal to require a majority vote in uncontested directors elections. The vote in favor surpassed the bylaw requirement of a two-thirds threshold.

Although I do not question the scholarship of Larcker and Tayan, their discussion of the Netflix approach to governance would benefit from an examination of shareholder relations with the board. We hope that is on their agenda for a closer look

Netflix Approach to Governance: Other Views

   

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Biogen 2018 Proxy Voting Recommendations

The Biogen 2018 annual meeting is June 12. I voted AGAINST several directors and the pay package. Vote FOR the auditor and both shareholder proposals to enhance value.

Biogen Inc. (BIIB) discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers therapies for the treatment of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 80+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment, go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

I voted with the Board’s recommendations 57% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Will Netflix Ignore Stockholders Again?

Netflix Statement Re Proposal #4: Right to Call Special Meetings   

This proposal simply asks for a shareholder right to call a special meeting. Special meetings are a way to bring an important matter to the attention of both management and shareholders outside the annual meeting cycle. That is important because there could be 15-months between annual meetings. The 15% threshold is still well above the 10% allowed by law, which many other companies provide. Emergencies do happen. 64% of S&P 500 companies provide for special meetings. 

Let me also put this proposal in context. 

Last year a majority of shares were voted in favor of proxy access, to declassify the board, a majority vote for electing directors and to eliminate all supermajority voting requirements. As far as I know, none of those proposals were implemented by the Board.  Continue Reading →

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Tesla Proxy Access: Item 4 Presentation

Tesla Proxy Access, item #4

Tesla shareholders meet Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time, at the Computer History Museum located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043.   In the interest of more accurate press coverage of Tesla Proxy Access, item #4, I (James McRitchie) am posting the text of my draft presentation on Tesla Proxy Access in advance. Continue Reading →

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Alphabet 2018: End Oligarchy

Alphabet 2018 proxy recommendations. Alphabet is run by an Oligarchy. Will $GOOG overlords give up their position as a dictatorship? Are companies governed by dictatorships and oligarchies healthy for democratic governments? Shareholders can vote for change.

Alphabet Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides online advertising services in the United States and internationally. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 80+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I voted and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you do not want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is on June 6, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 45% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Netflix 2018 Proxy: Shareholders Still Pushing Basic Rights

Netflix 2018 annual meeting is June 6, 2018. Vote FOR all of the shareholder proposals to enhance long-term value. The Board keeps ignoring our votes. We need to keep reminding them we want the normal shareholders rights.

Netflix (NFLX), an Internet television network, engages in the Internet delivery of television (TV) shows and movies on various Internet-connected screens. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 70+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

I voted with the Board’s recommendations 25% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Genomic Health 2018: Will Baker Bros Vote Proxy Access?

Genomic Health 2018 annual meeting is June 6. Will 40% owner Baker Brothers Advisors LP allow proxy access? Genomic Health (GHDX) provides actionable genomic information to personalize cancer treatment decisions worldwide. If Baker Brothers eventually hopes to sell its shares into the market, they would do well to vote for proxy access. Other shareholders will pay a premium for shares of a company with proxy access and other corporate governance provisions that enhance board accountability.

Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 20+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make, especially when one shareholder has such control. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

I voted with the Board’s recommendations 25% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Tesla 2018 Proxy Decisions Crucial

Tesla 2018 annual meeting is June 5, 2018. Tesla, Inc. (TSLA) designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles, and energy generation and storage systems in the United States and internationally. If Tesla is to survive and thrive, it needs a more independent board. The vote of shareholders will be crucial in deciding Tesla’s future.

Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 50+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference their vote will make. I have done the work for you.

Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read most of the post), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two. Every vote does count. I voted against the Board’s recommendations 100% of the time on the Tesla 2018 proxy. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Alphabet and Facebook Shareholders Seek Better Oversight: Scandals Loom

Alphabet and Facebook shareholders will once again vote on shareholder proposals at their 2018 annual shareholder meetings related to unequal voting structures. With growing concerns about data and privacy issues, shareholders will weigh in on how other company governance issues are also at play.

Voting results will influence whether America will continue its long course toward “democratic” corporate governance or will revert to corporate governance by oligarchs.

Explained NorthStar Asset Management CEO Julie Goodridge.

Through these shareholder resolutions, common shareholders have been showing concern for years regarding managements’ outsized voting rights at both companies, and this year’s proposal couldn’t be timelier given the recent fallout from seemingly endless data mismanagement issues at Facebook.

A proposal brought by socially responsible investment firm NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. at Facebook and Alphabet, with corporate governance activist and author James McRitchie as a co-lead filer at Alphabet, seeks to change this arrangement.

We are asking both Facebook and Alphabet to recapitalize the shares so that each share gets one vote. Alphabet and Facebook are publicly traded, and we believe that status as a public company should come with an equal right to vote. Given the scandals this year at Facebook, it is clearly time for shareholders to have meaningful input on company management issues.

At Alphabet, which has three classes of stock, insiders like Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and former chairman Eric Schmidt control 58% of the vote while owning less than 13% of economic stake combined.  Similarly at Facebook, ordinary shareholders buying shares on public markets have access to shares with one vote (class A), while insiders like CEO Mark Zuckerberg own shares with 10 votes per share (class B).  Critics of the voting structures at these companies point out that it would be essentially impossible for class A shareholders to “out-vote” the founders, even on significant or concerning matters.

According to Mari Schwartzer, NorthStar’s Director of Shareholder Activism and Engagement,

We can see this in results of the 2016 annual meeting in which Facebook proposed a new non-voting class of stock in order to allow Mr. Zuckerberg to give away the lion’s share of his wealth without losing control of the company. Our estimates indicate that about 71% of outside shareholders voted against the creation of this new class of stock, yet Mr. Zuckerberg moved forward with attempting to create it. To stockholders, this is evidence that Facebook does not take common shareholders’ wishes seriously.

Mr. Zuckerberg owns almost 14% of stake in the company but controls nearly 53% of the vote, which allowed the company proposal to pass; a shareholder lawsuit halted that aspiration last fall.

At last year’s annual meetings, NorthStar estimates that over 61% of Facebook class A (outside) shareholders and over 88% of Alphabet class A shares voted in favor of the recapitalization plan to one vote per share. NorthStar hopes those figures continue to stay strong at the upcoming annual meetings – Facebook shareholders vote this Thursday, May 31 while Alphabet shareholders will vote next week on June 6th.

Schwartzer continued,

This year is monumental for Facebook in particular, but for tech companies in general. The Cambridge Analytica scandal illustrated how risky and potentially damaging it can be to manage user data, but these issues aren’t at rest yet. Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa just hit the news last week when a private conversation was recorded and sent to a couple’s contacts. Clearly, these data privacy issues are concerns that shareholders should pay close attention to when they vote their proxies and think about how company governance plays a role here.

NorthStar’s Goodridge went on to explain that shareholder interests are not just about fairness:

We are very concerned about shareholders’ inability to deal with this issue at the board level. Mr. Zuckerberg has formed a board with close ties and loyalties to him. We do not believe that the board would step in to ask him to step down if another scandal were to wrack shareholder value further. Shareholder input is crucial for long-term value and company growth.

NorthStar has filed exempt solicitations with the SEC to urge shareholder support. Find them on the SEC’s website at the following links: Facebook exempt solicitation; Alphabet exempt solicitation.

NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. is a wealth management company based in Boston with a focus on socially responsible investing.  At NorthStar, creative shareholder engagement is a positive force for change.

Alphabet and Facebook are clearly trendsetting companies. As Alphabet and Facebook go, so goes the nation. Will our country increasingly be the headquarters of corporate dictatorships? Will corporate dictatorships support a strong democratic government in these United States of America, or will they continue to seek short-term power and profits for the few at the expense of conditions that favor the long-term broader interests of all their shareholders and users?

How shares are voted at Alphabet and Facebook could send a clear message to those in power. Help put an end to democratic-free zones. The oligarchs at both Alphabet and Facebook would do well to end their sovereign rule for their own self-interest.

Even if their votes were strictly tied to their economic stake, the founders of Alphabet and Facebook would still wield considerable power. Instead of being dictatorships they would have to listen to other shareholders and share power.

Instead of what some might consider “lapdog” boards, Alphabet and Facebook could attract more knowledgeable, independent directors, not afraid to speak their minds. Turning around corporate governance at Alphabet and Facebook could also preserve the reputations of these companies and their founders as leaders and avoid cumbersome regulations.

George Washington was encouraged to continue as President for life but stepped down for the good of the country. The founders of Alphabet and Facebook should take a page from history.

See my FB Facebook Proxy Vote Recommendations. I will make full voting recommendations on Alphabet’s proxy before their annual meeting.

   

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Amazon 2018 Proxy: Rigging the Vote Count

Amazon 2018 annual meeting is May 30th. View proxy. I do not have time to go through my usual voting rationale. I am too busy with companies where I have a proposal. However, I want to bring to your attention a very important proposal from Bruce Herbert at Newground Social Investments, starting at page 18. The topic is vote counting for shareholder proposals and it goes to the heart of democracy, or lack thereof, at Amazon. Vote today, especially for item 6. Do no let Amazon’s Board rig the vote. Continue Reading →

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FB Facebook Proxy Vote Recommendations

FB, Facebook, provides various products to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers, and other surfaces worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 60+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot.

Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 31, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 0% of the time. Facebook’s corporate governance needs a makeover, away from dictratorship. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Axon Enterprise Proxy Recommendations

Axon Enterprise, Inc. (AAXN) develops, manufactures, and sells conducted electrical weapons (CEWs) worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 60+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 24, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 25% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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NEE Nextera Energy Proxy Recommendations

NEE Nextera Energy. through its subsidiaries, generates, transmits, distributes, and sells electric power to retail and wholesale customers in North America. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 100+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 24, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 44% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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IRBT Proxy Voting Recommendations

IRBT (iRobot Corporation) designs, builds, and sells robots for the consumer market worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 70+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 23, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 75% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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ILMN Proxy Voting Recommendations

Illumina (ILMN), provides sequencing and array-based solutions for genetic analysis. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 70+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 23, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 67% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Chipotle Mexican Grill Proxy Guide

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG), together with its subsidiaries, operates Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants. As of December 31, 2017, it operated 2,363 Chipotle restaurants throughout the United States, as well as 37 international Chipotle restaurants; and 8 non-Chipotle restaurants. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 70+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make.

Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 22, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 38% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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PayPal Holdings Proxy Recommendations

PayPal Holdings (PYPL), operates as a technology platform company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide. Its payment solutions include PayPal, PayPal Credit, Braintree, Venmo, Xoom, and Paydiant products.

Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 100+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 23, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 44% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Intel Proxy Voting Recommendations

Intel Corporation (INTC), designs, manufactures, and sells computer, networking, data storage, and communication platforms worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 100+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts. The annual meeting is coming up on May 17, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 53% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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United-Guardian Proxy Rule Violation

United-Guardian (UG), United-Guardian, Inc. manufactures and markets cosmetic ingredients, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, medical lubricants, healthcare products, and specialty industrial products in the United States and internationally. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make, although this one is only 16 pages Below, I tell you how I voted and why. The annual meeting is coming up on May 16, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 0% of the time, since our Company flagrantly violated regulations. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Charles Schwab Proxy Voting Guide

Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW), through its subsidiaries, provides wealth management, securities brokerage, banking, asset management, custody, and financial advisory services. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 100+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I voted and why.

If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years, have values aligned with mine, and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 15, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 60% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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3D Systems Proxy Voting Guide

3D Systems Corporation (DDD), through its subsidiaries, provides three-dimensional (3D) printing products and services worldwide. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 50+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I voted and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read my rationale), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 15, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 67% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A).

Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value.

3D Systems: ISS Rating

From the Yahoo Finance profile:

3D Systems Corporation’s ISS Governance QualityScore as of April 1, 2018 is 4. The pillar scores are Audit: 2; Board: 3; Shareholder Rights: 1; Compensation: 10.

Corporate governance scores courtesy of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). Scores indicate decile rank relative to index or region. A decile score of 1 indicates lower governance risk, while a 10 indicates higher governance risk. Therefore, we need to pay closer attention to executive compensation.

3D Systems: Board Proposals

1. 3D Systems Proxy Voting Guide: Directors

Egan-Jones Proxy Services recommends “For,” with the exception of: William E. Curran (1A), Kevin S. Moore (1I) and Jim D. Kever (1F) because they have served for more than ten years (with compromised independence) and sit on key committees, which should be composed only of independent directors. Although I agree with the thrust of their arguments, I am not ready to set that as my policy.

Since I voted against the pay package, I also voted against all members of the compensation committee: William E. Curran, William D. Humes, and Kevin S. Moore. I also note, there are no women on the board. I am inclined to vote against the nominating committee next year, if that continues.

2. 3D Systems: Executive Compensation

3D Systems’ Summary Compensation Table shows the highest paid named executive officer (NEO) was CEO Vyomesh I. Joshi at $1.9M. I’m using Yahoo! Finance to determine market cap ($1.3B) and I am roughly defining large-cap as $10B, mid-cap as $2-10B, and small-cap as less than $2B. 3D Systems is a small-cap company. According to the Equilar Top 25 Executive Compensation Survey 2015, the median CEO compensation at small-cap corporations was $3M in 2014, so pay was under that amount.

3D Systems shares substantially underperformed the Nasdaq over the most recent one, two, and five year time periods. For 2017 the ratio of the annual total compensation of Mr. Joshi, our CEO, to the annual total compensation of our median employee was 35 to 1.

Egan-Jones Proxy Services rates compensation practices as “Neutral” and recommends For.
Egan-Jones

However, to me it looks like 3D Systems is gaming the system, since they substantially reduced pay from $8.1M to $1.9M in one year. I feel I cannot ignore this recent history of overpaying. That factor and continued underperformance led me to vote “AGAINST” the say-on-pay item, as well as members of the compensation committee.

3. 3D Systems: Ratify Auditors

I have no reason to believe the auditor has rendered an inaccurate opinion, is engaged in poor accounting practices, or has a conflict of interest.  However, Egan-Jones notes the auditor has been serving as the Company’s auditor for more seven years and their independence is compromised. I also believe that the companies should consider the rotation of their audit firm to ensure auditor objectivity, professionalism and independence. I have not set a specific number of years. In this case I voted FOR.

3D Systems: Shareholder Proposals

4. REDUCE THE OWNERSHIP REQUIRED FOR STOCKHOLDERS TO CALL A SPECIAL MEETING 

This proposal is from Myra Young, as written and recommended by me (James McRitchie), so we certainly voted in favor. Most states allow 10% to call a special meeting. Before we submitted the proposal 3D Systems had a threshold of 50+%, so we have already won substantial ground prior to this vote. We believe 15% is a reasonable compromise above the 10% standard.

Vote FOR.

3D Systems CorpGov RecommendationsProxy Insight

Proxy Democracy was down. Proxy Insight reported on CalSTRS. which also voted AGAINST the pay package and compensation committee. They voted FOR all other items, including our shareholder proposal to lower the requirements for calling a special meeting.

CorpGov Votes:

  1. Directors: Vote AGAINST William E. Curran, William D. Humes, and Kevin S. Moore.
  2. Auditor: Vote For.
  3. Ratify Executive Pay: Vote Against.
  4. Reduce Ownership Requirement to Call a Special Meeting; Vote FOR

3D Systems: Issues for Future Proposals

SharkRepellentLooking at SharkRepellent.net for other provisions unfriendly to shareowners:

  • Special meetings can only be called by shareholders holding not less than 25% of the voting power.
  • Proxy access provisions are Lite.  A shareholder or group of no more than 20 shareholders holding at least 3% of the outstanding common stock continuously for at least three (3) years may nominate directors, so long as the number of directors elected via proxy access does not exceed 20% of the board.

3D Systems: Mark Your Calendar

Under Rule 14a-8 of the Exchange Act, certain stockholder proposals may be eligible for inclusion in our proxy statement and form of proxy for our 2019 Annual Meeting. The date by which we must receive stockholder proposals to be considered for inclusion in the proxy statement and form of proxy for the 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is November 28, 2018 or, if the date of our 2019 Annual Meeting is changed by more than 30 days from May 15, 2018, a reasonable time before we begin to print and mail the proxy materials for the 2019 Annual Meeting.

Warnings

Be sure to vote each item on the proxy. Any items left blank are voted in favor of management’s recommendations. (See Broken Windows & Proxy Vote Rigging – Both Invite More Serious Crime). I generally vote against pay packages where NEOs were paid above median in the previous year but make exceptions if warranted. According to Bebchuk, Lucian A. and Grinstein, Yaniv (The Growth of Executive Pay), aggregate compensation by public companies to NEOs increased from 5 percent of earnings in 1993-1995 to about 10 percent in 2001-2003.

Few firms admit to having average executives. They generally set compensation at above average for their “peer group,” which is often chosen aspirationally. While the “Lake Woebegone effect” may be nice in fictional towns, “where all the children are above average,” it doesn’t work well for society to have all CEOs considered above average, with their collective pay spiraling out of control. We need to slow the pace of money going to the 1% if our economy is not to become third world. The rationale for peer group benchmarking is a mythological market for CEOs. For more on the subject, see CEO Pay Machine Destroying America.

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Ford Motor Company Proxy Voting Guide

Ford Motor Company (F) designs, manufactures, markets, and services a range of Ford cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, and electrified vehicles; and Lincoln luxury vehicles worldwide. Placing a big bet on the continued profitability of gas guzzling SUVs and trucks, they recently announced phasing out most sedans. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 100+ pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I voted and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read my rationale), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 10, 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 52% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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Invesco Proxy Voting Guide

Invesco Ltd. (IVZ) provides investment management services to retail clients, institutional clients, high-net worth clients, public entities, corporations, unions, non-profit organizations, endowments, foundations, pension funds, financial institutions, and sovereign wealth funds. Most shareholders do not vote because reading through 70 pages of the proxy is not worth the time for the small difference your vote will make. Below, I tell you how I am voting and why. If you have read these posts related to my portfolio for the last 22 years and trust my judgment (or you don’t want to take the time to read it), go immediately to see how I voted my ballot. Voting will take you only a minute or two and every vote counts.

The annual meeting is coming up on May 10 2018. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 35% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →

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