April 9, 2018

Risk Factors: “Trade War” Disclosures Trending?

This MarketWatch article says that some companies have included the potential impact of a trade war in their Form 10-K “risk factors” disclosure.  The article provides some examples of companies that have flagged the current unpleasantness between the U.S. & China as a potential risk – and suggests that more companies may opt to address the risks of a trade war in future filings.

This Form 10-K (pg. 26) from TravelCenters of America has the most extensive disclosure among the examples cited in the article.  This excerpt provides a summary:

“Any changes in U.S. trade policy could trigger retaliatory actions by affected countries, resulting in ‘trade wars,’ in increased costs for goods imported into the United States, which may reduce customer demand for these products if the parties having to pay those tariffs increase their prices, or in trading partners limiting their trade with the United States,” according to TravelCenters’ filing. “If these consequences are realized, the volume of economic activity in the United States, including trucking freight volume, may be materially reduced. Such a reduction may materially and adversely affect our sales and our business.”

The article cites two other companies – Fossil Group (pg. 27) and Amphenol (pg. 13) – that disclosed the risk of a trade war in their 10-Ks. However, unlike TravelCenters, their disclosures were not broken out under a separate caption. Instead, they were included in a bullet point list of various risks associated with their operations.

Based on a recent Edgar search for 10-Ks referencing “trade war” or “trade wars,” it looks like the approach taken by Fossil Group and Amphenol is more typical – at least so far. I found a total of twelve 10-Ks that contained either of these terms. And only one company – G-III Apparel Group (pg. 30) – broke out the risk of a trade war separately in its 10-K.

While only a dozen companies referenced a trade war in their 10-Ks, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, it’s possible that others that others may have addressed the risk using other terminology – e.g. “retaliatory tariffs” – which wouldn’t have been caught by my search. Second, many larger companies would have made their filings before the President fired what may turn out to have been the trade war’s first volley on March 1st.

Enforcement: SEC Targets the Man Who Traded Gretzky

If you’re not a hockey fan, the name Peter Pocklington probably doesn’t mean much to you. But if you are, you’ll always remember him as the man who traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. That decision earned Pocklington the undying enmity of many Edmonton Oilers fans and – at least temporarily – the title of “the most hated man in Canada.”

Apparently, the SEC’s not too fond of him either. Last week, the agency announced an enforcement action alleging that Pocklington, a convicted felon, concealed his ownership & control of a company from investors in a private placement.

I’m not an Oilers fan, so I don’t have a dog in this fight – like any good citizen, I simply hope that justice prevails. On the other hand, if this was Art Modell. . .

Warm Remembrances: A Farewell to Fred Cook

Here’s a note from Broc: I’m sad to report that Fred Cook passed away last week. Widely considered “the Dean” of the compensation consulting world, Fred was much more than just a genius. Warm, kind – always with a sparkle in his eye. I was pretty new to the executive pay world when I launched and our annual “Proxy Disclosure Conference” fifteen years ago – but Fred was more than willing to spend time with me and explain the basics. When I last saw him two years ago, he still seemed so young – so eager to share.

Fred always talked truth. And with his vast experience, he could give the proper perspective to what makes sense – and what doesn’t. Take some time to find out for yourself – this speech by Fred that we transcribed in 2005 still can provide numerous valuable learning lessons. We will miss you Fred!

Fred was married for 54 years and raised three daughters. Here’s an excerpt from Fred’s obituary in the NY Times:

Fred had a lifelong passion for the outdoors and physical fitness, completing many marathons without once training on a treadmill, and climbing the 46 High Peaks in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains. He climbed many of those peaks multiple times, in both summer and winter. He particularly loved introducing his family and friends to the Adirondacks he loved so much, with large family reunions, college reunions, hikes to swimming holes, outdoor hot tub soaks, and trips with his granddaughters up some of those same High Peaks. In life as in business, he loved to create traditions and share his passions.

John Jenkins