Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Innovations Emerge to Make Web Venue for Investor Relations

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Innovations Emerge to Make Web Venue for Investor Relations

Article excerpt

Bell & Howell's management found a new way of getting out information about its annual shareholder meeting last May in Ann Arbor, Mich.: Broadcast the proceedings live on the World Wide Web.

The company's decision is an example of the way the Web is becoming a new venue for investor relations.

Investors come to learn not only about a company's profits and press releases, but also its strategies and culture. The model is still sketchy, and many company sites focus exclusively on consumer information and have not caught on to the basics of investor relations. But innovations are quickly emerging that undoubtedly will become the standard. Colgate-Palmolive, for instance, offers daily highs and lows of its stock's price over the last five years, a valuable help to shareholders at tax time. And Campbell Soup allows Web users to sign up to receive news releases by e-mail. First name, last name and e- mail address, boom, that's it. After Bell & Howell's shareholders were told about the May meeting, "hundreds of extra shareholders" were able to attend "by remote," said Henry D'Ambrosio, vice president at Bell & Howell for administration. "In the Q-and-A period we got 15 e-mail questions including two from overseas, from London and Tokyo." Bell & Howell's site also is unusual in listing the names and telephone numbers of investment analysts who follow the company. Hewlett-Packard, although it is a leading technology company, offers a more routine but fairly complete service, including its stock price, updated throughout the day, quarterly and annual reports, speeches by the chairman, recent remarks that management made to securities analysts and descriptions of the company's businesses, segment by segment. Many companies link their Web pages to their financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, at the Edgar data base, and offer an e-mail form for requesting printed shareholder information like an annual report. And often there are corporate histories, sometimes earnest, often leaden. AT&T offers its annual reports going back five years and shows a graphic of its stock price over the last 180 days (generally sagging). Companies typically distribute their news releases to the financial news agencies and public-relations wire services to meet strict SEC requirements for the timely and fair dissemination of important corporate news. …

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