May 10, 2010

Say-On-Pay So Far: A Second Company Fails to Gain Majority Support

Just last week, I blogged how Motorola became the first US company to fail to obtain majority support for say-on-pay. Now, Occidental Petroleum becomes the second company, as shareholders voted on this measure at its annual meeting on Friday according to this WSJ article. The actual numbers weren’t announced at the meeting nor has the Form 8-K been filed yet with the voting results.

Two rejections of pay in a week is a lot. In the United Kingdom, I believe it took over five years to reach two after say-on-pay was mandated for all of its companies…

The Myth: “Fat Finger” Trader Triggers 1000-Point Dow Drop

So far, it appears that the regulators, stock exchanges and the media haven’t been able to ascertain the cause(s) for the wild 16 minutes of trading last Thursday. In fact, it appears that perhaps the only thing they do now know is that the rumor of a massive, erroneous trade touching off the chaos was not a cause.

Too bad because the image of a single human accidentally sending the market into the tank is much more comprehensible that the tangled web of computers which likely is the cause. Here’s my romanticized version of the myth:

“Big Bob” Hunter strolled back from his daily routine of a quick late lunch, polishing off his two half-smokes within minutes of grabbing them from Tony, the corner vendor from whom Bob has frequented daily for over a decade. In fact, their nearly unspoken bond had become so great that Tony was one of the few people that Bob included on his Christmas list each year.

Nervous about the debt situation in Greece, Bob broke from tradition and also ordered a large carton of fries. As he settled back into his desk for another round of trading for his firm – Acme Big Bank – Bob casually poked at the fries as he glanced at one of his favorite “money honeys” on the cable newshow talking on the TV across the room. He chuckled about her quip regarding one of his favorite stocks as he placed a client’s sell order for Procter & Gamble.

Within seconds, he noticed a flash on the ticker as P&G began to plummet. “What in the devil?,” he thought. With horror, he realized that his greasy finger slid two keys from the “M” to the “B” when he had placed his P&G order. “Tarnation!,” he exclaimed as he wiped his brow and called his manager over. It was going to be a long day.

Here’s a press release from the SEC/CFTC on Friday noting that they are still investigating and promising to report what they find, when they find it…

And here’s a funny story from my good friend Mark Coller: “Honest truth, each year I try to pick a Kentucky Derby winner based on which horse’s name matches prevailing current events. It’s worked fairly well. For example, remember when War Emblem won in ’02 – owned by a lower level Saudi prince no less – that the naive public was gung ho on “getting Saddam” and everyone displayed flags on their houses and cars.

So this year I considered the eventual winner Super Saver – but discarded him because our national savings rate is still not stellar. I decided Devil May Care seemed to fit best – but alas, the filly came in 10th…”

Poll: What Was the Primary Cause for the Big Market Drop?

In the anonymous poll below, weigh in on what you think the primary cause of the market drop:

Online Surveys & Market Research

– Broc Romanek