I went to my first ever stock-holders meeting yesterday. For at least a decade, I've owned various stocks but never gone to a single meeting. Most were too far off to consider.
The meeting? In Mannheim.....with Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. The company? It's a printing company that once (30-40 years ago)....was a giant and making great money for the investors. Over the past decade....maybe even for twenty years...the company has been on the decline. They will say that the 2008 economic stumble really hurt them (actually spoken at the meeting).....but the numbers show decline for a decade or so.
Right now....they trade at roughly two Euro....$2.50. Investors, to say, aren't happy.
The meeting was held at the fancy of hotels in the center of town.....with free parking (usually never given). Massive security.....at least a hundred folks to guarantee the safety and security of the event. A number of guys with the red bags on the side.....I assume with pistols but it'd be impolite to ask. You had to enter a detector and they searched every bag. I'm guessing that some threats have been made in the past.....maybe anger and hostility over the decline of the stock in 2007 at 30 Euro to today's price of 2 Euro.
First, let me say.....they put on a fine food episode. Breakfast was laid out.....various German coffee cakes, with lots of coffee and orange juice (the better brand). Later? Yes, they laid out your choice of pork steaks or 3-star pasta.
The "show"? There was a thirty minute lead with the results of the last year. They talked up China expansion and the cut of more employees. They are down over four years from 19,000-odd employees to around 14,500-odd employees. Their business model? Kinda twisted and in a change period. They have technology on their side and a good bit of package printing.....but the profits are there and the stock is suffering.
The CEO then got up and did his analysis. Yeah, things were twisting a bit and the stock is suffering but the future is better. It was nice talk but the guys who bought into the stock at 30 Euro in 2007.....aren't that happy.
So the company's period ended and they had to open it to the floor. Guys with massive stock ownership or vote control.....got up from the crowd. They just aren't happy. The CEO ought to leave. Things ought to change. It just isn't right.
I kinda got the impression by the third such stockholder speaking.....they might want change, but the world market has changed. The company is in a prime position to be sold off to some Chinese business. It won't help the stockholders, but this company really can't compete and generate stock prices of a decade ago.
The highlight of the meeting? Well....about fifteen minutes into the meeting....this older German couple came in....with the guy leading. I was up in the balcony section with seats still open. The old guy spots an open row.....eight seats fully open but it's a row off the center. For a guy, it typically doesn't matter. So he leads his German wife up the steps and is aiming for the off-center open area.
The German wife then sees two open seats on the opposite, in the center, and she desperately wants to sit in the center.
The old German guy moves onto his eight open seats and sits down. The wife absolutely refuses to sit there. You can see this hand movement from the wife. The guy is eight feet away and is absolutely paying no attention to the hand signals. The wife is a bit upset.....turns....and goes over to the two open seats in the center area.
I sat and watched the older gal glance every thirty seconds at the husband, in a huff mostly. The guy was sitting happily and saying nothing. This huff glance went on for twenty minutes at least.
My humble guess is that she has this thing about always been in the middle of a theater, where vision is everything. The guy? He has a thing about being around open seats. It would have been interesting to hear their conversation that evening. It was likely a bit heated.
As for stock-holder meetings? Well....if you wanted a couple of hours of entertainment, free food, and lively talk.....you might want to buy a few shares and go to the yearly meeting. As for the Heidelberger Druckmaschine crowd? Well...better days have come and gone. Other than putting on a fine show, there's not much to discuss.