We’re nearing the halfway point of 2018’s proxy season, with dozens of AGMs for S&P 500 companies taking place each week through May.
Those companies reporting their results later in the season or in the year can directly benefit from the gauge of shareholder sentiment hidden in AGM results – but even those companies that have reported already should put their results in context when reporting to the board or planning off-season engagement.
As more companies release their results, some as far into June, the Ipreo Blog will share them to help provide that context, beginning this week with the S&P 500 AGM Voting Results for 1/1/18 – 5/8/18.
Votes on ratification of auditors are typically a rubber-stamp event for most companies – as long as there are no major concerns around auditor statements and no excessive consulting fees paid to the auditor, shareholder generally offer their support. This year, however, both ISS and Glass Lewis announced opposition to the auditor ratification for General Electric, citing both reported accounting irregularities and an increase in consulting fees, and ISS specifically noting the tenure of KPMG’s relationship with GE at 109 consecutive years. While not common practice in the US, auditor rotation is a significant concern for many European issuers and investors, and it’s worth keeping an eye out for any demands from shareholders in the US.
Since our last report, the number of board structure proposals (mostly focused on requiring an independent chairman of the board) reporting in has more than doubled, with support for management lagging last year’s similar period by nearly 8% of votes cast. 13 out of 20 of these proposals have received more than 30% of votes in support, compared to just 6 in the same period last year. Further, of this 13, 12 have existing lead independent director structures. It’s possible that shareholders may be spending more time looking at the specific responsibilities and capabilities of the LID role, and that simply having an LID may not be sufficient for some shareholders in the future.
See the latest voting results in Ipreo’s S&P 500 AGM Voting Results for 1/1/18 – 5/8/18