$COST, Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. $COST has supermajority vote requirements (66.67%) to amend certain charter provisions, a classified board with staggered terms, and no written consent unless unanimous by all shareholders. In short, reasonable shareholder rights are missing. By way of comparison, Amazon.com ($AMZN) has no supermajority vote requirement, a declassified board elected annually and written consent by majority.
Tag Archives | proxy voting
The 50/50 Climate Project released their Key Climate Vote Survey 2017 (link) of votes by America’s largest investors. Those attending last week’s informative Fall Conference of the Council of Institutional Investors in San Diego found out about it and many other newsworthy items.
Key Climate Vote Survey 2017: Groundbreaking Season?
First-time approval of climate risk proposals at Exxon (XOM) and Occidental (OXY) represents a huge win. Victory was only possible because of a highly visible shift in voting by mainstream funds State Street, J.P. Morgan, as well as from BlackRock and Vanguard, which joined climate risk proponents for the first time.
However, do not get complacent. More effort to get mutual funds to address climate change is still needed. According to the 50/50 Climate Project representatives at CII, Vanguard backed only 15% of such proposals, while Blackrock voted for only 9% — despite both managers’ high-profile support of resolutions at ExxonMobil and Occidental. The cynic in me says votes may be more driven by the potential for adverse publicity, rather than potential impact on value, although the two are undoubtedly correlated. Compare to Vanguard’s Investment Stewardship 2017 Annual Report.
SciClone Pharmaceuticals Proxy Voting Guide by CorpGov.net. SciClone Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (SCLN), a specialty pharmaceutical company, provides therapies for oncology, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disorders in the Peoples Republic of China, the United States. SciClone Pharmaceuticals is one of the stocks in my portfolio. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of no fund families when I checked and voted. Their annual meeting is coming up on June 8, 2017.
I voted FOR #5 proxy access, proposed by me, James McRitchie. See how and why I voted this and other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 80% of the time. View proxy via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A).
Cognizant Technology Solutions Proxy Voting Guide by James McRitchie of CorpGov.net. Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (CTSH) provides information technology (IT), operations and technology consulting, infrastructure, and business process services worldwide. The firm is one of the 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 June 6, 2017
I voted FOR James McRitchie’s shareholder proposal to provide a shareholder’s right to act by written consent. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 76% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
Netgear Proxy Voting Guide by James McRitchie of CorpGov.net. NETGEAR, Inc. (NTGR) designs, develops, and markets innovative networking solutions and smart connected products for consumers, businesses, and service providers. NTGR 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 June 1, 2017.
I voted FOR James McRitchie’s shareholder proposal to provide a right to special meeting for shareholders with 15% of the common voting stock. See how and why I voted other items below. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 64% of the time. View Proxy Statement via SEC’s EDGAR system (look for DEF 14A). Continue Reading →
Starbucks Corporation (NASD: SBUX), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee worldwide. SBUX 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 March 22, 2017
It is rare when investors file a resolution with a mutual fund since most funds don’t hold regular annual meetings. Nonetheless the act of filing puts the fund on notice that participants are concerned about their voting record on issues like climate change. Tim Smith shared this new resolution with Vanguard, which as many know signed onto the UN’s PRI.
It is significant that investors are questioning their proxy voting record on issues like climate change. Continue Reading →
The AFL-CIO Key Votes Survey is designed to help pension fund trustees fulfill their fiduciary duty to monitor the proxy voting performance of investment managers. Good corporate governance matters to shareholders and proxy voting is the most direct means for shareholders to exercise oversight in relation to the corporations they own. (Read the full report.)
Proxy Votes Must be Cast in Your Interest
In 1988, the U.S. Department of Labor advised pension fund trustees that under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), the voting rights attached to company stock are “plan assets” that must be managed according to ERISA fiduciary standards. The Department of Labor requires investment managers to “maintain accurate records as to proxy voting” and permit trustees to “review the actions taken in individual proxy voting situations.” Continue Reading →
Norges Bank published their second annual report on responsible investment of the Government Pension Fund Global. They clarified expectations towards companies in 2015 and are creating a model I hope many will follow
The report provides a comprehensive review of work by Norges Bank on responsible investment in the management of the fund. Key areas of this work include developing and promoting international standards and principles, expressing expectations towards companies, and being an active owner.
Norges Bank expects companies to address a broad set of long-term risks in their strategies, investment plans, risk management and reporting. They updated expectations with regard to children’s rights, water management and climate change in 2015, and today they are also publishing their expectations for how companies manage human rights. Monitoring environmental, social and governance risks in the portfolio is an important part of Norges Bank Investment Management’s work on responsible investment. Continue Reading →
WDFC develops and sells maintenance products, and homecare and cleaning products. WDFC is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is on December 8, 2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the vote of one fund when I checked. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 100% of the time. View Proxy Statement.
Guidewire Software, Inc. provides software products for property and casualty (P&C) insurers. It offers a technology platform supports core insurance operations, including underwriting and policy administration, claim management, and billing. Guidewire is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on December 3, 2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two funds when I checked. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 40% of the time. View Proxy Statement.
Microsoft Corporation (MFST), a technology company, develops, licenses, and supports software products, services, and devices worldwide. Microsoft is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is on December 2, 2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of five funds when I checked. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 62% of the time. View Proxy Statement. iiWisdom provides a nice interactive viewing platform that makes Microsoft’s proxy a little easier to read. I recommend it.
ProxyPulse, a partnership of Broadridge Financial Solutions and PwC’s Center for Board Governance, released its first report of 2015, based on results from the 2014 fall mini-season that analyzed beneficial shareholder data from 1,077 U.S. public company shareholder meetings. There are lessons here for both issuing companies and shareholders. Continue Reading →
I will be on a panel at the 2/19 SEC Roundtable discussing how to increase retail shareholder participation in the proxy process. The SEC agenda is in bold italics. Our thoughts on VIFs and CITs are in normal type. Part 1 is here. Part 2 here.
This panel will focus on strategies for increasing retail shareholder participation in the proxy process. The panel will discuss how technology – by providing better access to information or easier means of voting – might affect retail participation. In addition, the panel will discuss whether the format of disclosure could be improved to increase the engagement of shareholders and how the mechanics of voting could be improved to affect retail shareholder participation. Continue Reading →
The roundtable, announced in January, will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be divided into two panels. Participants on the first panel will focus on the state of contested director elections and whether changes should be made to the federal proxy rules to facilitate the use of universal proxy ballots by management and proxy contestants. Participants also will discuss the state law, logistical, and disclosure issues presented by a possible universal proxy ballot process. Continue Reading →
(1/27/2015) The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it will host a roundtable on February 19 to explore ways to improve the proxy voting process. The roundtable, which will be held at the SEC’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, will focus on universal proxy ballots and retail participation in the proxy process. I will be a member of the second panel. I invite readers to help me by sharing your ideas.
Proxy voting is important to both investors and companies. The ability to vote allows investors to make their views known to the company’s management and to participate effectively at annual or special meetings. Thus, the proxy voting process should be robust, effective and workable. Continue Reading →
A recent paper [Miriam Schwartz-Ziv and Russ Wermers, Do Small and Large Shareholders Have a Say-on-Pay? (October 15, 2014) available at SSRN] investigates the voting patterns of shareholders on Say-On-Pay and finds that ‘small’ shareholders are more likely than large shareholders to use the non-binding Say-On-Pay vote to govern their companies, are more likely to vote for an annual Say-On-Pay vote, and are more likely to vote “against” Say-On-Pay (i.e., to vote against the pay package). Continue Reading →
Corporate Governance Publisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links in the material referenced below. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. More about the WABAC machine.
The SEC this week weighed into the proxy advisor debate with Staff Legal Bulletin 20, which provides information on the proxy voting responsibilities of investment advisers (i.e. professional investors) as well as clarification on the exemptions from federal regulation which apply to proxy advisory firms. Continue Reading →
Steris Corp $STE, which develops and markets surgical and critical care support products and services, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their next annual meeting is July 30, 2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of no funds on Steris when I checked and voted on 6/17/2014. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 100% of the time. View Steris Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Steris proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →
Guest Post: Miguel Carrasco – Managing Director and proxy solicitation consultant at Proxycensus Ltd specializing in issues relating to information transmittal, social media technology in IR and the technicalities of the cross border voting process.
This is the final program for the Asian Corporate Governance Association‘s 13th Annual Conference taking place in Seoul, Korea on November 5-6, 2013. You can still reserve your place.
Sign up for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibile Investment in North Asia. Payment can be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express). Please note companies registering two or more Continue Reading →
This book follows the theme of Corporate Governance Matters: A Closer Look at Organizational Choices and Their Consequences also by David Larcker and Brian Tayan. Larcker is the James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, Stanford Graduate School of Business. Brian Tayan is a member of the Corporate Governance Research Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. While Corporate Governance Matters (see my review) focuses on debunking “best practices” in corporate governance, A Real Look at Real World Corporate Governance takes more of an abbreviated case study approach, delving into how several decisions were made by boards at specific companies. Continue Reading →
The Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), a leading Canadian responsible investment education and advisory service for institutional investors, is accepting letters of interest for a full time, permanent position. Continue Reading →
Vanguard, Northern Trust, BlackRock and Fidelity scored the lowest among researched funds in supporting AFL-CIO endorsed proxy issues in 2012, according to their 2012 Key Votes Survey. Calvert, Amalgamated Bank, McMorgan and Bridgeway scored the highest.
On proxy-voting issues at 32 companies the AFL-CIO considers representative of a “worker-owner view of value that emphasizes management accountability and good corporate governance,” Vanguard voted against all 32 proposals; Northern Trust, 28 out of 29; BlackRock, 30 out of 32; and Fidelity, 28 out of 30. Continue Reading →
ISS updated its proxy voting policies. The most interesting to me is the “Board Response to Majority Supported Proposals.”
The marketplace has been evolving in the matter of board responsiveness to majority-supported shareholder proposals, both in terms of institutional investors’ expectations, and in terms of the actual responsiveness by issuers. ISS’ 2012-2013
Policy Survey results show that 86 percent of the institutional investor respondents expect that the board should implement a shareholder proposal that receives support from a majority of shares cast in the previous year. Continue Reading →
Time to step into the way back machine to see what we were writing about 5, 10 and 15 years ago. Five years ago @ Corporate Governance, I was pleading for readers to send comments to the SEC on their proxy access proposals. 30,000 letters wasn’t enough, in my opinion.
A shareholder proposal calling for a “say-on-pay” vote by shareowners on executive compensation at Activision Inc. (ATVI) filed by As You Sow received 69% of the vote at the company’s annual meeting held in Beverly Hills, California. This may be the highest vote result so far of about 50 say-on-pay proposals voted on by shareowners this year. Activision is a publisher of video games including Quake, Doom and Guitar Hero, and is currently all the news for its purchase of Bizarre Creations Ltd., the UK studio behind the popular Project Gotham Racing title. (Activision to Purchase U.K.’s Bizarre Creations, WSJ, 9/27/07) Conrad MacKerron, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility Program at the As You Sow Foundation, criticized the company for providing outrageous perks like paying the mortgages, Medicare taxes, and even pet-sitting for executives. Continue Reading →
India’s InGovern Research Services Pvt. Ltd. “assists financial institutions and investors that have financial, investment or reputational exposure to public-listed companies in India by providing our clients with corporate governance reports, proxy analysis and proxy voting solutions.” Their recent report, Analysis of Mutual Funds Voting for 2011-12, finds little progress when it comes to mutual funds participating in corporate governance and taking their fiduciary responsibilities regarding proxy voting seriously. Continue Reading →
Two of my favorite funds, CalSTRS and Florida SBA whose proxy votes are reported on ProxyDemocracy, released statements to the press about accomplishments this proxy season. Their accomplishments are impressive by any standard. Continue Reading →