I want to give a shout out to this guy who gave me the idea to start attending the numerous shareholder meetings I get invited to every year. Full disclosure I have a single share of TIF that I bought some 9 years ago to celebrate the one year (paper anniversary) of our wedding. I reinvested my dividends, and as of today we have a grand total of 1.167063 shares! One share in paper form, and 1/6 of a share is held as electronic digits on some computer at Computershare.
I bought the one share as an Apex Member of TD Ameritrade, which back in the day you could just ask nicely and they will certificate it for you for free. Those days are now gone, but now you would have to buy the share (you could use MR points too) , and then ask nicely to transfer it to Computershare, then pay the $25 to have it printed out and sent to you.
The meeting took place at the Rubin Museum of Art, which is housed in the former Barney’s Department Store on 150th West 17th street in NYC Manhattan. Previous meetings according to the other attendees were in the W hotel, which isn’t very glamorous at all. When the venue and event was announced, I thought it would be worth a trip to check it out since it wasn’t just some hotel conference room.
My wife could not attend, but was gracious enough to watch two children, and gave me 24 hour liberty to scout out the meeting for our visit next year. I sent in my reply to get on the guest list and it was not problem getting in today. The check in desk made it clear that I could not get in if I had held on the share in a brokerage account and if I didn’t relinquish the proxy.
The event included a private tour of the Rubin Museum after the meeting. On the 4th floor is a soundscape and a recreation of a Tibetan temple for relaxation. There is also a large commissioned artwork of the circle of life showing the rise and fall and reincarnation of all things. This zen experience is perfect for a company that just lost 9% in market value the day before the shareholders meeting.
Check in was nice, they had my name on a super special list of losers single shareholders that have nothing better to do. They also had a huge leger of every shareholder on record open for inspection. I wasn’t even given a ballot since they figured my 1 share out of 124,650,000+ would not count for anything at all. I could of voted by proxy, but I forgot to this time. The meeting was nicely catered with pastries, tea, juice, coffee, yogurt, and fresh cut up fruit. All served in real china with mindful attendants clearing the empty plates and glasses.
The meeting started promptly at 9:32 and finished up at 10:00 am with a single new shareholder, Julie Werner from “Better Investing” asking all the questions. I got to sit next to her in the very small venue, she was talking to the many board members before the meeting even started. Her questions were just soft underhand pitches for the CEO to knock out of the park, but more on that later.The meeting stated out with the scripted matter of business motions for the 5 agenda items, including the vote for dropping PWHC as the accounting firm. The declarations were made and a certified Inspector of Election was present to tally up all the votes for each item. This was kind of a farce since the proxy absentee ballots have already been counted. No one voted at the meeting, no ballots were cast, and in the end, the only item I cared about which was regarding PWHC. The vote result was 1 million for dropping PWHC as the firm for what I can presume as reaction to their Oscar Flub. However 112 million voted with the board to keep them on for another chance. Once the official business was completed, a PowerPoint presentation was given that outlined all their product lines, and where they were heading.
Let me sum up the entire presentation: apparently this company makes jewelry and cardboard boxes with bows. They also make paper bags that have white handles to hold these boxes. They are committed to making more jewelry in the future, and have invested money to make “rare” carbon rocks even more desirable, despite technologies to make perfect shiny carbon rocks in the lab.
Then they also noticed that these broke ass kids today don’t want to buy any more jewelry, and once all the old folks with money die, there will be no one to sell their stuff to. They are looking for some one to fix this problem some time soon. Hopefully they can find some one to take the Avocado Toast model and bring it to TIF in order to sell perfect non rare carbon rocks to people who would pay $19 for avocado and toast, but instead for rocks and metal.
Despite a near 10% loss in market value, stagnation of the brand, failure of Lady GaGa to drum up sales since the Superbowl Ad, there was no question or outrage from the shareholders. It was business as usual for everyone. Back to Julie Werner, her only questions were the full page Ads for “All In Paris Climate Accord” causing the backlash to the brand. The other question was about having too much clutter in the showroom display cases. Apparently this TIF company has retail locations, that no millennial has time, or reason to even to go to.
The answers paraphrased are: We are working on getting the millennials to buy our stuff, they love this kind of hippie green shit, and the second answer is, hey we got a website, who cares about our retail location, its always too much, or too little, but no one buys anything there anyways.
What was there to learn from the meeting? Nothing really that you could not find out by just reading the K-1 report and the annual report. It was a fun time to check out what the word on the street is. Remember the majority shareholders are the fund managers at Vanguard. These shareholders dominate the vote since they own the most of TIF via their Mid Cap Growth VOT, Mid Cap Value VOE, and Mid Cap ETF VO funds as well at every S&P 500 index tracking fund out there. And I assume they just vote with the board recommendation.
The coffee and museum tour were really good too. If you got time on you hand, it’s worth a visit, but don’t think you are going to get any sort of market edge here. Next up: My LuxuryCard lounge visit.