Protect the Voice of Shareholders is the name of a new website created by Institutional Shareholders Services (ISS) and the Council of Institutional Investors (CII). The educational website supports the current system, where institutional investors pay for and receive independent research and voting recommendations from proxy advisory firms for the public corporations in which they are owners. Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | ISS
Starbucks Corp (SBUX), operates as a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee 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 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 Clorox Company, CLX, manufactures and markets consumer and professional products worldwide. It operates through four segments: Cleaning, Household, Lifestyle, and International. CLX opposes giving shareholders effective proxy access to enable us to place nominees on our company’s ballot. Shareholders have no right to act by written consent. It takes 25% of shareholders to call a special meeting and 80% to amend certain charter amendments. In short, shareholder rights are lacking. Without changes, CLX is likely to continue to lag the S&P 500, as it has done for the last one, two and five year time periods.
Conoco’s virtual only annual meeting is the target of a shareholder proposal by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. A similar proposal was filed at Comcast. The Conoco resolution has already been cofiled by the Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust and the Needmor Fund, a Walden client.
As responsible shareholders, we believe good corporate governance includes the opportunity for shareholders to meet face-to-face with the company’s Board and management at the Annual Shareholders Meeting.
Tim Smith of Walden Asset Management stated
The decision to move an annual meeting to cyberspace has moved far beyond a minor internal management decision and become an important governance matter for companies. Imagine if companies facing major controversies had decided to forgo physical meetings. If a company faces debate on their comp package or its climate change position or has votes on shareholder resolutions it is also a problem to have a disembodied discussion on line for a stockholder meeting.
For more views, see Nuns tell companies to get real over virtual AGMs @FT and In Depth: Growth in Virtual-Only Meetings a Concern for Institutional Investors @ Chief Investment Officer.
Reeds, Inc fights to deepen its a democratic-free zone through dilutions to strengthen the grip of insiders and by opposing proxy access. They are headed for private control, while keeping the company public. Last year, the founder picked a new board. Is it really independent?
Reeds, Inc (REED) develops, manufactures, markets, and sells natural non-alcoholic carbonated soft drinks in the United States and internationally. Reeds, Inc is one many stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected no votes (company may be too small). Continue Reading →
FedEx Fights for a democratic-free zone @ 9/25/2017 annual meeting. Seeks to maintain fake proxy access; refuses to disclose lobbying payments; wants to continue to monitor say-on-pay vote to lobby those who vote against; wants to disrespect human rights where allowed by state laws.
FedEx Corporation provides transportation, e-commerce, and business services worldwide. FedEx is one of many stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on September 25, 2017. Vote today. If you have already voted, and want to change your vote, you can. Your last vote will override the previous vote. More than 90% of retail shareholders don’t bother to vote, so think of yourself as voting for 10.
I voted FOR Proxy Access Amendments and all the other shareholder proposals. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations only 25% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
Williams-Sonoma Proxy Voting Guide by CorpGov.net. Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSM) operates as a multi-channel specialty retailer of various products for home. Williams-Sonoma is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of one fund family when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on May 31, 2017.
I voted AGAINST #5 lite proxy access, FOR #6 real proxy access, proposed by me. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 57% of the time. View proxy via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
Chipotle Proxy Voting Guide by CorpGov.net. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG), together with its subsidiaries, develops and operates Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants. As of December 31, 2016, the company operated 2,198 Chipotle restaurants throughout the United States, as well as 29 international Chipotle restaurants; and 23 restaurants with non-Chipotle concepts. Chipotle is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of four fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on May 25, 2017.
I voted FOR #5 lower Special Meeting threshold from 25% to 15% of shares. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 58% of the time. View proxy via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
PayPal Proxy Voting Guide by CorpGov.net. PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL) operates as a technology platform company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide. PayPal is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on May 24, 2017.
I voted FOR #5 Provide Right to Act by Written Consent and two shareholder proposals seeking reports. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 40% of the time. View proxy via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
Twitter Proxy Voting Guide by CorpGov.net. Twitter, Inc. operates as a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. The company offers various products and services, including Twitter that allows users to create, distribute, and discover content; and Periscope, a mobile application that enables user to broadcast and watch video live with others. Twitter is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of one fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on May 22, 2017. I will be in attendance, presenting our proposal to study cooperatives, so stop by and say hello.
Of course I voted FOR our proposal entitled Exit to Democratic Ownership, filed in conjunction with BuyTwitter.org. Add to the collective intelligence by tweeting #WeAreTwitter. Follow @BuyThisPlatform. See how and why I voted this and other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 43% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
EllieMae, Inc. (ELLI) provides on-demand software solutions and services for the residential mortgage industry in the United States. EllieMae is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of one fund family when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on May 17, 2017, so vote now.
I voted FOR #4 to declassify the board. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations % of the time. View proxy via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries, operates as an entertainment company worldwide.
The Walt Disney Company is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on March 8, 2017.
Apple Inc. (NASD:AAPL) designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players to consumers, small and mid-sized businesses, and education, enterprise, and government customers worldwide.
Whole Foods Proxy Access, we have another chance to vote to make proxy access real before the annual meeting on February 17.
Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASD:WFM) is a retailer of natural and organic foods and is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of four funds when I checked and voted.
I voted FOR Whole Foods Proxy Access and the report on Food Waste; AGAINST director Jonathan Sokoloff because of his poor attendance record. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 82% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →
United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI) is a distributor and retailer of natural, organic and specialty products. The Wholesale segment is engaged in the national distribution of natural, organic and specialty foods, produce and related products in the United States and Canada. The Other segment includes a retail division, which engages in the sale of natural foods and related products to the general public through retail storefronts on the east coast of the United States; a manufacturing division, which engages in importing, roasting and packaging of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and snack items, and its branded product lines. Its operations consist of three operating divisions: Wholesale Division, Retail Division, and Manufacturing and Branded Products divisions. The Company offers 100,000 natural, organic and specialty foods, and non-food products, consisting of national, regional and private-label brands.
Their annual meeting is coming up on December 15, 2016. Can’t make it to Providence, RI? Attend virtually, using the dedicated 16-digit access proxy control number included in your proxy materials. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of 1 fund families when I checked. I voted FOR proxy access; AGAINST pay and compensation committee. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 55% of the time. View Proxy Statement. Continue Reading →
MSFT’s annual meeting is coming up on November 30, 2016. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of 3 fund families when I checked. Vote AGAINST pay, pay committee, stock plan. Vote FOR all other proxy items, especially my proposed amendments to proxy access to increase the ability of shareholders to group together to nominate directors. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 56% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →
Reed’s Inc. (REED), develops, manufactures, markets and sells fantastic natural non-alcoholic carbonated soft drinks and other confectionaries, such as Reed’s Ginger Brews; Virgil’s Root Beer, Cream Sodas, Dr. Better and Real Cola, including ZERO diet sodas; Culture Club Kombucha; China Colas; Reed’s Ginger candy and ice creams, and Sonoma Sparkler and other juice based products.
Their annual meeting is coming up on November 29, 2016. Unfortunately, the company is too small for ProxyDemocracy.org to follow, so no help there. However, I have been heavily involved with the Committee to Rescue Reed’s, so am intimately familiar with many of the issues. Vote FOR proxy access, split chair/CEO, forcing zombie directors to resign, all new board nominees and pay. Vote AGAINST Christopher J. Reed, Auditor, and Repricing options. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 55% of the time. View Proxy Statement; again, the company to small to pull up proxy via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →
Clorox Company (CLX), operates through four segments:
- Cleaning – laundry, home care and professional products.
- Household – charcoal, cat litter and plastic bags, wraps and container products.
- Lifestyle – food products, water-filtration systems and filters, and natural personal care products.
- International many of the same consumer brands.
Their annual meeting is coming up on November 16, 2016. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of 2 fund families when I checked. Vote FOR reducing the threshold to call a special meeting and all other items on the proxy. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 93% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →
FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) provides transportation, e-commerce, and business services in the United States and internationally. Their annual meeting is coming up on September 26, 2016. Last day to vote is the 25th, unless you attend the meeting.
ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two fund families when I checked. Vote AGAINST pay, compensation committee; FOR all shareholder proposals. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 44% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. I’m on vacation, so sorry for the late and somewhat abbreviated post. Continue Reading →
Controlled companies generally underperformed non-controlled firms in terms of total shareholder returns, revenue growth, and return on equity, according to a new report, Controlled Companies in the Standard & Poor’s 1500: A Follow-up Review of Performance & Risk, commissioned by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) and conducted by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS).
The study also finds that average chief executive (CEO) pay is significantly higher at controlled companies with multi-class stock structures: three times higher than that at single-class stock controlled firms and more than 40% higher than average CEO pay at non-controlled firms. In addition, director tenure typically runs longer, board refreshment is generally slower, and boardrooms are less diverse at controlled companies. Continue Reading →
Substantial implementation, that’s the deception companies have been arguing in order to obtain ‘no-action’ relief under SEC Rule 14a-8(i)(10) after implementing proxy access ‘lite.’ Law firms have been touting recent no-action letters released on February 12, with more in March 2016. It looks like a clear win for entrenched managers and directors for implementing only proxy access lite. In reality, such deception will cost companies more in legal fees and will reduce board discretion, since shareholders will increasingly file binding bylaw resolutions to obtain the same robust proxy access promised under vacated Rule 14a-8(i)(10). Continue Reading →
Today is your last chance to vote for real proxy access at Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM, $WFM), unless you plan to attend the meeting in San Francisco tomorrow. The annual shareholder’s meeting will be held at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, California 94108 and will begin at 8 a.m. See Pension funds line up in favor of proxy-access bylaw change at Whole Foods.
If you do attend, please stop me and say hello. I would love to get your feedback on how shareholders can improve accountability through improved corporate governance. Whole Foods used to be one of the largest holdings in my portfolio. Back in October 2013 shares sold for about $65; today $35 seems to be the threshold to beat.
I used to head California’s cooperative development program, so had a lot of experience with struggling grocers and their co-op wholesale. I invested in Whole Foods Market because their model was something of a hybrid, with its emphasis on teams, employee ownership and organic foods. Let’s discuss how Whole Foods can get its groove back.
Apple shareholders rejected real proxy access at their meeting on February 25, 2016. Maybe shareholders thought they already have it. Recent decisions by the SEC could lead shareholders to believe proxy access was “substantially implemented.”
Maybe they wanted to support Apple’s management while the company is under attack from the FBI.
ISS recommended a “For” vote. Shouldn’t that have guaranteed passage?
We probably won’t know for months which Apple shareholders rejected real proxy access… and maybe that’s the key point.
Proxy Access at Apple (AAPL) will be one of the most important votes of the proxy season. Will shareholders settle for the board’s recently adopted “lite” version, akin to greenwashing, or will shareholders vote in favor of real proxy access? Boards, investors, and the corporate governance industrial complex are watching in anticipation. Your opportunity to vote on this important issue expires TODAY, February 25th at 8:59pm PST (11:59pm EST) if you are using ProxyVote.com.
80% of retail shares aren’t typically voted, so it is almost as if you’ll be voting for five. If you are like me, you may hold Apple ($AAPL) stock in more than one account. Be sure to vote them all. Do it today, unless you will attend the meeting tomorrow. Vote FOR #8, Adopt Proxy Access Right. Continue Reading →
Apple’s proxy access lite led me to a little thought experiment after reading the following reaction at Mac Rumors: “Maybe if all macrumors members who are shareholders band together, we can nominate one of our own!” What are the possibilities that members of Mac Rumors, any, or even all of the thousands of Apple-centric groups around the world could join together and nominate directors? (Find Apple group near you.)
Apple’s opposition statement to my proposal for real proxy access cites a statement made by Patrick McGurn, special counsel at ISS, the shareholder advisory group, who responded to Apple’s adoption of proxy access by stating that “other boards are likely to look to such respected companies and are likely to examine this issue now.” Yes, Apple’s proxy access lite got the attention of other companies but once we peel away the layers, we see the Board’s new bylaw is mostly for show, like greenwashing a product that pollutes. Although Mr. McGurn noted the importance of Apple’s proxy access lite, that doesn’t mean ISS thought it was good. In fact, ISS urges its subscribers to vote for my proposal to create real proxy access at Apple, as do early vote announcers Trillium, TRS, Australia’s Local Government Super, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Christian Brothers Investment Series, Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment, Florida SBA, Calvert, and Domini.
Apple will hold their annual meeting on February 26, 2016. If you are a shareholder, there is still time to vote your proxy in favor of real proxy access at Apple. Vote in favor of item #8, Adopt Proxy Access Right. I’ll analyze the other proxy items as we approach the meeting date. Continue Reading →
As reported by the Wall Street Journal (Apple Offers Proxy Access) and the Financial Times (Campaigners hail Apple shareholder move), Apple adopts proxy access. Yes, that’s progress, but we shouldn’t be gushing in praise over proxy access lite.
Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, called the Apple decision a
tipping point… Corporate resistance to proxy access is crumbling as more and more boards are coming to the table and working with investors to provide greater accountability that will drive long-term value.
Women in California companies continue to make slight progress. More of California’s largest 400 public companies public companies than ever have women chief executive officers (CEOs), and fewer have no women in their C-suites and boardrooms. However, the annual University of California, Davis, study shows women still hold just one in eight of the senior executive and director positions in corporate California.
Overall, women hold 12.3% of the highest-paid executive positions and board seats in the state’s 400 largest public companies — a scant 0.75% point increase over last year, according to the UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders.
At that rate it will take fifty years for women in California companies to reach parity. I’ll be long dead. In the meantime, I’ll continue investing a disproportionate of my portfolio in companies with women at the top, betting such companies have better corporate governance and will outperform my other investments. Continue Reading →
Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) designs, manufactures, and sells Internet Protocol (IP) based networking products and services related to the communications and information technology industry worldwide. Cisco is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is on November 19, 2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of four funds when I checked. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 50% of the time. View Proxy Statement.
Many readers refer to and rely on QuickScores issued by Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). It is in our interest to have those scores calculated using the best available data. Issuers have until Friday, 11/13/2015, 8 pm ET to submit updates and corrections through the ISS verification process. New scores are expected to be released on 11/23/2015, and will then appear in ISS research reports available on profile pages at Yahoo! Finance and elsewhere.
The following is primarily based on a recent Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati alert (with similar advice coming from many law firms). I am in no way offering legal advice but am simply passing on information to help ensure ISS has the best available data possible. Continue Reading →
ISS’s 2015-2016 global voting policy survey indicate investors are prepared to vote against directors at companies that ignore shareholders wishes and adopt proxy access mechanisms with overly burdensome ownership requirements.
An overwhelming majority of investors said ISS should issue negative director recommendations if a shareholder proposal to provide proxy access receives majority support and a board adopts proxy access with material restrictions not contained in the shareholder proposal. 90% said an against or withhold vote in a director election would be warranted if a provision had an ownership threshold in excess of 5% or an ownership duration in excess of three years. From the ISS press release: Continue Reading →