As one of those old-time investing dinosaurs, IFO insists on getting her annual reports the old-fashioned way – in the mail. It’s so nice to curl up in bed leafing through a stack of the latest annual reports and proxy statements.
A quick skim can give a good sense of what management is like, what their attitude is toward employees, how the year has gone for the company, and what the scope of the company is. Sadly, annual reports have become far less informative than in days past.
We remember a great explanation from one of the major oil producers, before it was merged into oblivion, of how deep undersea drilling works, complete with breath-taking diagrams and artwork.
Another company, in mining, used to have pictures of their Big Iron machinery which was dwarfed inside their open pits. You only got a sense of how immense the trucks and shovels were when the pictures showed driver-operators standing next to the equipment. A positively Romanesque scale.
It’s even more fun to get annual reports from consumer products companies or transportation companies. They are so proud of the products and services they are providing to their customers and their reports are full of pictures of company operations all over the U.S. and the world.
Maybe it’s just us, but utility companies’ annual reports are totally boring. If we had insurance company stock, we bet it would be the same thing – booorrrrrinnggg.
BTW, we’re not happy with the new requirement that companies ask shareholders to approve executive pay and to vote on how often the company should ask us what we think of it. We think the effort to justify what those guys are paid is waayyy too expensive, useless, convoluted and complicated. Can’t they just give them a salary and some stock options and be done with it? Nooooo.
When the report season winds down, we’ll present an overview of our impressions of how (or whether) the world economy is moving.
If you are still wondering what it is like to invest for yourself and what the rewards might be, consider buying 10 or 100 shares of a company that interests you, then wait for the printed annual report from YOUR company.