|Share prices climb after elections with little support|
The vast majority of board elections in the United States involves only those candidates nominated by the board – in what are called uncontested elections.
The red tape and high costs required by American regulations inhibit minority shareholders from nominating their preferred candidates. Although these elections do not formally reflect the minority shareholders' wishes, they can reveal their perceptions about the company and influence share prices. The finding was revealed in a study conducted by University of Pennsylvania professors.
Upon examining data on uncontested elections carried out by S&P 500 companies between 2000 and 2004, the study discovered that when the percentage of votes in favor was low, the companies' share prices tended to rise. The authors believe that such positive variations indicate that the market is expecting a change of course in the company. "In these situations, board members are driven to show results, for they perceive that the shareholders are not very satisfied with their work", they assess.
Companies that elected their boards with a low percentage of supporting votes presented higher CEO turnover and lower CEO compensation. "Contrary to past belief, the results of uncontested board elections are an important indication of how shareholders are perceiving the board's work", the study concludes.