March 11, 2019

GE’s “Letter to Shareholders”: How to Improve Transparency

As this season’s batch of proxy materials roll in, we highlight some of the notables as we always do. We often cover developments from General Electric (see this video about GE’s ’14 proxy, with 1400 views) – and this year is no exception. GE has simplified its glossy annual report. The first “Letter to Shareholders” from new CEO/Chair Larry Culp includes these refinements:

– The first “Letter to Shareholders” from new CEO/Chair Larry Culp is much more concise than in prior years, honing on GE’s two priorities
– The future focus continues with an infographic that presents innovations yielded from investments in the GE’s high-tech healthcare, power, renewable energy & aviation businesses
– On page 6, an infographic presents GE’s businesses and their leadership positions, and also presents the company’s “extended industries”
– On page 8, GE uses a single ‘easy-to-read’ page to highlight segment performance, alongside a brief description of each segment’s mission and business units

People seem to like it. This CNBC article contains a quote about “In our view, the filing marked another step forward in GE’s journey towards increased transparency, simplified reporting, and clearer communications to investors.” And here’s a WSJ article. Plus here’s an excerpt of a (poorly made) transcription of Jim Cramer’s comment about it:

General electric ceo annual letter came out last night, hopefully his first of many. it is honest it is straightforward. in short it’s the most un-ge piece of correspondence i have ever seen. you want to understand it was the most complex where you could never figure out how to do it. the numbers were borderline incomprehensible i had to search for a glossary it explained how many divisions were holding up.

How Do We Fix Congress’ Approach to Changing the Securities Laws?

I’m digging this blog by my friend Bob Lamm of Gunster about how Congress might be floating as many as 20 bills at a time in the securities law & governance area – and how this scattered approach might not be the best way to make applesauce…

Tomorrow’s Webcast: “Activist Profiles & Playbooks”

Tune in tomorrow for the webcast – “Activist Profiles & Playbooks” – to hear Anne Chapman of Joele Frank, Bruce Goldfarb of Okapi Partners, Tom Johnson of Abernathy MacGregor and Damien Park of Spotlight Advisors identify who the activists are – and what makes them tick.

Broc Romanek