Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Firms Offer Shareholders Product Parks

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Firms Offer Shareholders Product Parks

Article excerpt

Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON _ As a shareholder, you are one of the owners of a company and you prosper when the firm makes money.

But some companies are also rewarding their shareholders by giving them samples of products or discounts.

Of course, investing with an eye for discounts on Hush Puppies shoes or a ticket to Disneyland isn't an approach generally used by stock analysts.

John Markese, president of the American Association of Individual Investors, suggests that investors "should be swayed by (a company's) prospects of dividends, earnings and its growth, rather than by product distribution."

Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to be familiar with the products in which you're investing.

The companies that offer these perks aren't necessarily looking for sophisticated investors. What they're after is name recognition and a chance to entice people who have a little extra money to spend.

"If you've got a good product, the best thing you can do is to get it into the hands of your most loyal constituents _ which are your shareholders _ who will give word-of-mouth advertising," said L. James Lovejoy, spokesman for Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, Mich., the maker of Hush Puppies shoes.

To commemorate the 35th anniversary of Hush Puppies, the company inserted an order form into its 1992 annual report that gives shareholders 35 percent off Hush Puppies and Wolverine shoes.

Annual reports aren't really written for the individual, said Lovejoy, "so you've got to give some incentive for them to get inside and get to know your product and get to know your company."

One of the first shareholders to respond to the offer ordered $300 worth of discounted shoes, company officials said.

The Walt Disney Co. offers shareholders $10 off its Magic Kingdom Gold Card, good for discounts at the company's theme parks. …

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