April 08, 2008
Say Cheese
Posted by Fred Tung

I grew up eating at The Cheesecake Factory, so I was somewhat disappointed when I heard that the Calabasas, California company had attained the dubious honor of making CalPERS' 2008 Focus List of underperforming companies.  They sell great cheesecake, but according to CalPERS, the company has underperformed its peers by 140.5 percent over the last 5 years.  CalPERS objects to the company's staggered board and supermajority voting requirements for certain bylaw amendments, and the pension fund has a pending shareholder proposal to eliminate its staggered boards.  The four other companies that made the list--all with staggered boards that CalPERS opposes--are:

Hilb Rogal & Hobbs, an insurance brokerage based in Glen Allen, VA;

Invacare, a healthcare equipment supplier from Elyria, OH; 

La-Z-Boy (remember The Price is Right?) of Monroe, Michigan; and

Standard Pacific, which sells household durables and homebuilding supplies, from Irvine, CA.

Interestingly, according to a 2007 report by Wilshire Associates, Focus List companies have annual excess returns of -13.3% below their respective benchmarks for the five years before CalPERS involvement, but enjoy positive annual excess returns averaging 12.2% in the five years following.  Perhaps there is an investment strategy here?  See Riskmetrics for additional commentary.

Businesses of Note, Corporate Governance, Investing, Securities | Bookmark

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