Tag Archives | Proxy Insight

BlackRock 2019 Proxy Voting Guide

BlackRock 2019 annual meeting is May 23. To enhance long-term shareholder value, vote AGAINST directors Murry Gerber; Jessica Einhorn; William Ford; Margaret Johnson, Cheryl Mills; Gordon Nixon; Ivan Seidenberg; and Marco Antonio Slim Domit, as well as pay and the auditor. Vote FOR shareholder proposals to report lobbying and move to a simple majority voting standard. Continue Reading →

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Kellogg 2019 Proxy Vote Recommendations

Kellogg 2019 annual meeting is April 26th. Stock price fared poorly for the last five years, so the CEO should not be paid as if he had average performance. Vote AGAINST pay. The Compensation Committee should not be reelected, since they recommended average pay for below average performance. Vote AGAINST Laschinger and Tasted. Vote AGAINST ratifying the auditor. They have served for more than seven years, so independence is questionable. Vote FOR declassifying the board, so that we can hold each member accountable every year.

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Discover 2019 Proxy Vote

Discover 2019 Proxy Vote Recommendations. The Discover Financial Services (DFS) 2019 annual meeting is May 16th. To enhance long-term shareholder value, vote AGAINST directors Aronin, Case, and Weinbach, as well as the auditor. Vote FOR pay, end supermajority standards and shareholder proposal to allow shareholder of 15% to call a special meeting. ABSTAIN on the board proposal allowing shareholders with 25% to call a special meeting. Continue Reading →

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Berry Global Group 2019: Proxy Votes

Berry Global Group 2019 annual meeting is March 6, 2019. To enhance long-term shareholder value, vote AGAINST Carl Rickertsen, Thomas Salmon and Scott Ullem, as well as auditor, pay and 25% threshold for special meetings.  Vote FOR 1 year frequency for say on pay and for shareholder proposal to provide a 15% threshold for special meetings.  Continue Reading →

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Internet Will Drive Public Opinion and Proxy Voting to Reflect American Values

American values were recognized as at risk in 1932 when Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means argued that with dispersed shareholders, ownership has been separated from their control. (The Modern Corporation and Private Property) Ironically, concentration of equities under the umbrella of three or four indexed funds presents an opportunity to end that divide and make companies better reflect American values by being more accountable to their beneficial owners. Accomplishing that goal depends on transparent governance, such as proxy voting, and fostering real dialogue on the issues faced by corporations and investors. As I have argued, real-time disclosure of proxy votes could drive these huge funds to compete with each other based on not only profits and costs but their governance efforts, as reflected in proxy voting records. Continue Reading →

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Real-Time Proxy Voting Disclosure Will Drive Competition

Real-time proxy voting disclosure by big funds could drive competition for investments from individual investors and smaller institutional investors with few resources for proxy analysis. Such disclosures would also go a long way in solving problems raised by Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Leo E. StrineLucian Bebchuk, and the Main Street Investors Coalition regarding potential conflicts of interest and/or under/over investment in ESG analysis and advocacy. The cost of real-time proxy voting disclosure would be minimal and may actually save funds money currently spent converting voting files to pdfs.

Real-time disclosure would help customers compare voting records and could drive competition among big funds to vote the predominant values of their customers. For ease of use, Compare CalSTRS’ sortable real-time disclosures with those of State Street Institutional Investment Trust. [Graphic above from Pensions & Investments article, No excuse for fiduciary ignorance, 2/19/2018] Continue Reading →

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Cisco Systems 2018: Proxy Voting Recommendation

The Cisco Systems 2018 annual meeting is December 12th. To enhance long-term shareholder value, vote AGAINST directors Arway, Desroches, Grauer and Thiry, as well as pay and the auditor. Vote FOR shareholder proposals to split chair and CEO and to Deduct Impact of Stock Buybacks from Executive Pay.  CorpGov.net is an independent source for information about shareholder rights by real Main Street Investors, not sock puppetsContinue Reading →

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Real Main Street Investors Endangered

Real Main Street Investors are NOT the members of a Coalition formed by the National Association of Manufacturers to buttress arguments made by the Business Roundtable and United States Chamber of Commerce. (see Main Street Investors: Battle Coming) In fact, real Main Street investors are an endangered species that may actually go away if the Coalition gets its way.

The Coalition appears to be getting traction with SEC Chairman Clayton who mentioned “Main Street Investors” 28 times in testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services. Or, perhaps he is referencing the real main street investors, not the Coalition?

The Coalition has budgeted millions of dollars on an information campaign based on paid for biased research. For example, one of their surveys found that 78% of ETF investors chose passive funds for stable, consistent returns, while only 11% select ETFs for how they influence worthy political or social causes.

However, most of the 78% investing primarily for money also may want both: earn money and have a positive influence. The survey was designed to exclude measuring the popularity of such motivations.

Real Main Street Investors Endangered

Who are the real Main Street Investors? According to Wikipedia, “Main Street” represents the interests of everyday people and small business owners, in contrast with “Wall Street.” Further, investors are those who “allocate capital with the expectation of a future financial return.”

By that definition, real Main Street investors are an endangered species. Half of American’s have no investments in equities, not even mutual funds. The top 1% holds more wealth than the bottom 95%… before the recent roll back of inheritances taxes. “Everyday people” in America do not invest in corporations. For most everyday people, their homes are their primary investments.

Studies find a direct correlation between income inequality and political polarization over the last 60 years. Unfortunately, it manifests itself daily in the erosion of norms around civility, truth telling, declining trust in our institutions and political dysfunction. 

inequality correlates to polarization

It is clear we need more real Main Street investors if we are to avoid plunging deeper into turmoil. One thing the Main Street Investors Coalition gets right is that real people have almost no ability to influence the decisions corporations make on their behalf. 

We do need to change that. However, we cannot accomplish that by suppressing shareholder proposals and proxy advisors. Instead, we need to emphasize how real Main Street Investors can invest with our values, instead of despite our values. 

Real Main Street Investors Need to be Involved in Corporate Governance

Contrary to Coalition pronouncements, there is no such thing as value-free economics or investing. When we abrogate our moral responsibilities, we tilt the rules away from citizens to entrenched insiders. 

Common values must be created through open dialogue and elections, not by unaccountable individuals hidden behind dual-class corporate structures controlling our economy. 

Although buying a mutual fund is investing, most mutual fund holders do not really identify with the companies mutual funds own. When I invest, I ask myself what the world needs and try to find public companies that fulfill that need. 

Investing is just the start of a long-term relationship. Real Main Street investors should hope to hold forever and to suggest ways our companies can improve, either through shareholder proposals or in other communications with the company.

I recently read a wonderful little book, A Nation of Small Shareholders, about an NYSE campaign to get more Americans to feel like part of the capitalist system after WWII. It was a way to convince Americans that capitalism would offer them more benefits than communism. Since they felt like shareholders, they would also be more likely to favor lowering capital gains taxes. It was a nudge campaign before behavioral economics took hold. The NYSE knew what it wanted before they started and it was not fostering dialogue with real Main Street investors.

Today, America needs a campaign to make all Americans shareholders. It should emphasize the shareholder’s voice in shaping corporate impacts, as well at potential profits. The SEC should educate real Main Street investors about resources available to them in meeting their voting responsibilities as shareholders.

The New York City Comptroller recently joined a dozen other funds in announcing their votes in advance of annual meetings. Reviewing those disclosures is very helpful in making voting decisions. Proxy Insight compiles it all for a reasonable subscriber fee. We hope to get ProxyDemocracy back up and running as a free service. Meanwhile, you can always research them one-by-one through the Shareholder Action Handbook on CorpGov.net.

If the overwhelming majority of investors simply want to earn the highest return possible, regardless of impact, we are doomed as a society unless the Universe was meant to bend toward greed. I am convinced most real Main Street investors want to live in a civilized society on a salubrious planet.

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SEC Shareholder Proposal Panel – Take Action!

The November 15 SEC Roundtable on the Proxy Process will include me on the SEC Shareholder Proposal Panel. Public announcement with instructions for submitting comments. I will only have a few minutes at the Roundtable. What should I emphasize? Where should I stay in DC?

Take Action: Readers of CorpGov.net know far more than I do. Please email your suggestions and supporting evidence. Without your help, I will ramble off topic to connected tangents, difficult to explain in a few seconds. This post is sure to be an example. Continue Reading →

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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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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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