I attended the shareholders meeting last month. I was one of about eight shareholders there.
It really cost me to attend this event, Greenwich, CT is so upscale that motel rooms are about $200 a night and a dinner in a restaurant attached to the hotel cost my wife and I was over $80.
I did get a chance to talk to one of the independent directors and an observer on board from Rail America and did not come away satisfied. None of the directors are railroad men.
Keep in mind that the powers that be hold a number of Class B shares which give them 10 votes per share to every vote that the ordinary shareholder has. This seems to give a feeling of absolute power.
I discussed with the independent director, who is supposed to represent the ordinary shareholder, about the excessive cost of maintaining the headquarters at one of most expensive areas in the U.S., while the operations department is located in Jacksonville, where the cost of living is one third as much and CSX and FEC have their headquarters. This director told me that the top 3 men would resign rather than move.
I also expressed my concern about about the excessive costs of the annual report - that gatefold cover must have cost an extra 25 cents per copy.
After the presentation by President Hellman there was a Q & A session.
The questions related to:
* Instituting a dividend - No. They need the money for growth. (They seem to be afraid that a dividend would encourage individual shareholders, vs being held by mutual Funds)
* Spinning off GWA as a subsidiary corporation to allow repatriation of some of the capital and allow the Aussies to finance the company. The Aussie division is becoming a long haul operation, while North America is primarily short haul. - Will look at it
* Stock split - Not in the works. BUT, when done in the past, it helped to develop interest in the stock.
The elephant(s) in the room that were ignored were voting on the directors every year and say on pay
I have cut my holdings.
Somebody should ask the directors of this company when they are going to eliminate the class B shares and why the shareholders are not allowed to vore on all the shareholders every year. Those who are stockholders in this company are at great risk.