Tag Archives | ISS

United Natural Foods (UNFI) – Proxy Score 82

UNFIUnited Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) , which distributes and retails natural, organic, and specialty foods, as well as non-food products primarily in the United States and Canada, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 12/17/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org was down when I checked and voted on 12/14/2014. I hope they are able to obtain continued funding to keep the site going. If anyone would like to make a tax deductible contribution to that effort, please email Andy Eggers, cc James McRitchie (I’ll match whatever you contribute up to $2,500). I voted with management 82% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 82.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the United Natural Foods 2014 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Guidewire Software (GWRE) – Proxy Score 33

GuidewireGuidewire Software Inc ($GWRE), which provides software products for property and casualty insurers, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 12/4/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two funds when I checked and voted on 12/1/2014. Sorry for the late post. Tomorrow is the last day to vote online. I voted with management 33% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 33.

View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Guidewire Software 2014 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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CEO Pay: Link to the Cost and Future Value of Capital

IRRCi study on CEO PayTotal shareholder return (TSR), is the most frequent metric used to pay CEOs for performance. The authors of this excellent study from IRRCi believe CEO pay should, instead, be linked to the cost and future value of capital.

CEO Pay for ‘Performance”

In 1993, Congress amended the tax code to tie executive pay to “performance” metrics. To be a deductible business expense, pay had to be linked to performance. Stock price was an easy proxy for performance and the link was acceptable to the IRS. Before the amendment, in 1991, average CEO pay at large public firms was 140 times that of average employees. By 2003, it was approximately 500 times. Whereas equity-based compensation at such firms was zero percent in 1984, it climbed to 66% by 2001. The percentage of CEO pay from stock option grants rose from 35% in 1994, to 85% by 2001.

As the authors point out, “total shareholder return is, by far, the most dominant performance metric in long-term incentive plans.” Yet, increased TSR often has little to do with actually growing a business for the long-term. The rise of fall in stock price generally has little to do with CEO effort. When there is effort involved, rewards come quicker through cost-cutting (firing employees, reducing R&D), stock buybacks or financial engineering than by developing new products, training staff or increasing sales. Continue Reading →

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Say-On-Pay Key Coordination Issues

Say-on-Pay (SOP)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 →

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Will Corporate Elites Attack Public Opinion Next?

WallGreed

Public Opinion

Entrenched corporate elites may need to up their public opinion game. Robert Monks and Nell Minow are near the top of their attack list. (Shareholder crusaders Monks and Minow speak out) Having been sued several times for having the audacity to make recommendations to boards via shareowner proposals, I’m on there too. (see EMC v. John Chevedden and James McRitchie: Case Dismissed, as well as Deal Professor Equates Filing Proxy Proposals with Terrorism) Of course, proxy advisors, such as ISS and Glass Lewis are at the top for frequently advising clients to vote in favor of shareowner proposals and against those of management. Research now indicates, public opinion may be next. Continue Reading →

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H&R Block (HRB): Proxy Vote Score 54

hrb-logoH&R Block $HRB, which provides tax preparation and related services to the general publicis one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their next annual meeting is September 11, 2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two funds when I checked and voted on 9/7/2014. I also checked the votes of OTPP and CalSTRS. All advance disclosers that I know of except CBIS voted in favor of all items. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 54% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 54. View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the H&R Block proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value.

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Annies (BNNY): Proxy Score 66

Annies $BNNYAnnies Inc $BNNY, which produces, markets, and distributes natural and fantastic organic food productsis one of the stocks in my portfolio. I bought into the company not only because of their products but also because Annies has more women executives and directors than most. I am hoping that helps them connect with their customers. Unfortunately, they apparently have no minorities on their board. Annies’ next annual meeting is September 9, 2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two funds when I checked and voted on 8/27/2014, plus I also found how CalSTRS voted. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 66% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 66. View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Annies proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value.

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Savings Plus: Transparent Proxy Voting Needed

calhr-savings-plusI’ve previously written two posts on California’s Savings Plus program and how one major contractor, Northern Trust has voted. (Part I & Part II) Below, I compare the votes of Northern Trust on proxy proposals with those recommended by the AFL-CIO. A similar exercise could be performed at any deferred compensation plan. 

Shareholders have voting rights, usually one vote per share, to decide who will serve on the board and to advise on pay and other issues. Funds, such as CalPERS and the CalHR Savings Plus program, have a legal duty to ensure shares are voted in the best interest of program participants. Continue Reading →

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Medtronic, Inc. (MDT): Proxy Vote Score 59

medtronicMedtronic $MDT, which manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies worldwideis one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their next annual meeting is August 21, 2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three funds when I checked and voted on 8/17/2014. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 59% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 59. View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Medtronic proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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California’s Savings Plus: Better Proxy Voting Disclosure Needed Part II

CalHR Savings Plus

This is the second of a two part series. Part I discussed proxy voting at Savings Plus, as compared with at CalPERS. 

CalHR’s Current RFP for Savings Plus

CalHR recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP 700-14-01) seeking bids for investment management services for Savings Plus. Unfortunately, the RFP fails to require Savings Plus participants be informed of proxy voting policies or decisions.   Continue Reading →

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MSCI to Acquire GMI Ratings

MSCIMSCI Inc. (MSCI) announced it has agreed to acquire GMI Ratings, a provider of ESG (environmental, social and governance) ratings and research to institutional investors, through its subsidiary MSCI ESG Research Inc. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Said Remy Briand, Managing Director and Head of ESG Research.  Continue Reading →

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Steris (STE): Proxy Vote – 100

STERIS Corporation logoSteris 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 →

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Medivation (MDVN): Proxy Vote – Score 91

MedivationMedivation $MDVN, a promising biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies to treat serious diseases, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their next annual meeting is June 27, 2014. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of one fund when I checked and voted on 6/17/2014. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 91% of the time and assigned them a proxy score of 91. View Proxy Statement. Would it bust their budget to add a hyperlinked table of contents? Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the MDVN proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value.   Continue Reading →

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Letter to P&I Re Fiduciary Duty Editorial

P&I-proxy-voters-cartoon Below is an email I sent to Pensions & Investments (P&I) editorial chief Barry Burr praising their editorial enhancing fiduciary duty and opining on how it may speed the arrival of the time when retail investors will vote their values with the simple push of a button or two on their cell phones. I will follow this tomorrow with some additional remarks regarding the advent of open client directed voting, assisted by this expanded fiduciary duty.

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your important editorial, Winning Over Proxy Voters, which argues that institutional investors have a fiduciary duty to announce their proxy votes in advance of annual meetings, if doing so is likely to influence voters.

Votes are assets. Announcing votes in advance of meetings puts the value of those assets to their full use; announcing votes after the meeting does not. Continue Reading →

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