Study: Remote shareholder meetings mean bad news

When a company moves its shareholder meeting to a very remote location, that usually means the company is trying to hide bad financial news, according to a study reported in “The NBER Digest.”

Companies that held a shareholder meeting at least 50 miles from their headquarters and at least 50 miles from a major airport experienced an abnormal six-month return of [negative] -6.8 percent, the study found.

“We find that managers schedule long-distance meetings when the firm is experiencing adverse operating performance that is not already known to the market,” the authors said. “Moving the meeting may be part of a strategy to reduce attendance or forestall questioning from audience members, so that the chance is reduced for questions or confrontations that might force the managers to reveal what they know.”

The working paper, “Evasive Shareholder Meetings” by Yuanzhi Li and David Yermack, was summarized in the July 2014 issue of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) newsletter. Continue reading “Study: Remote shareholder meetings mean bad news”

Consumers willing to pay more for eco-friendly food packaging

When it comes to food and beverage packaging, consumers are most likely to pay more for value-added features that relate to freshness and sustainability, according to a global study by Ipsos InnoQuest.

On a global basis, consumers were most likely to say they would pay more for “packaging that keeps food fresh longer” (55%) and “packaging that is environmentally-friendly” (55%). Following freshness and environmental benefits, consumers said they were likely to pay more for packaging that is re-usable (42%) and easier to use (39%).

Interestingly, more sophisticated packaging features were less likely to motivate consumers to spend more: packaging that prevents mess or spills, keeps food and beverages at the right temperature, and makes it easier to eat and drink on-the-go ranked lowest (34%, 33% and 31%, respectively).

Hiring managers discriminate against the long-term unemployed

“Employers statistically discriminate against workers with longer unemployment durations,” according to a labor-market study reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

The researchers sent fake résumés to 3,000 real, online job postings — noting the length of unemployment on the résumé — and then tracked the “callbacks” from employers. “The likelihood of receiving a callback for a job interview sharply declines with unemployment duration,” the NBER reported in its March 2013 Digest.

The effect is most pronounced in the first eight months after becoming unemployed, according to the study (NBER Working Paper No. 18387) by Kory Kroft, Fabian Lange and Matthew Notowidigo.

Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars

Popular notions that electric cars will suddenly replace conventional gasoline-powered cars don’t acknowledge the possibility that there could be eco-friendly advances in conventional car technology. A study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds that “internal combustion engines are improving their ability to cut CO2 emissions at a lower cost than expected, and, as a result, carmakers should be able to meet 2020 emissions targets mainly through improvements to conventional technologies.”

A key word there is should. It would take a concerted effort by automakers in several technical areas. Continue reading “Electric vehicles will face stiff competition from eco-friendly gasoline-powered cars”

Four emerging risks for corporations

The Corporate Executive Board’s “Risk Integration Strategy Council (RISC)” has released the January 2011 “Emerging Risks Update,” (pdf) noting the following risks on the horizon for enterprise risk managers:

Leaks of sensitive corporate information like strategic planning documents or embarrassing memos (think Wikileaks, which is on its way to becoming a verb, like Google). Strategy: Bolster information security, especially as “new technologies and platforms like cloud computing, SaaS, and social networking gain prominence.”

Shortage of rare earth minerals, an essential component of clean energy technology, computers and electronics (e.g., mobile phones). China controls 97%. Strategy: Other countries (including the U.S.) with deposits of rare earth minerals can open or re-open their mines, “but it can take up to [10] years for a new mine to begin operations.” Meanwhile, “world leaders” must discourage China from unfairly exploiting its position. Continue reading “Four emerging risks for corporations”