Stocks

Why timing of AGM/result meet is significant

KS Badri Narayanan Chennai | Updated on February 15, 2020 Published on February 15, 2020

Will India Inc avoid waiting till last minute to hold board/shareholder meeting?

Timing is crucial — for activities as diverse as playing cricket to cracking a joke. And now, timing has begun to matter for India Inc’s meetings too — be it to announce quarterly results or the annual shareholders meeting.

Though these are routine affairs, the timing of these meetings can offer important cues to investors about the company’s health.

Recently, proxy advisory firm Institutional Investor Advisory Services (IiAS) came out with a report based on its analysis of annual general meetings (AGM). The study was mainly to analyse the timing of the AGM and the relative performance of the company.

 

According to IiAS’ findings, over the last six years through FY19, more than two-thirds of Nifty500 companies have conducted their AGMs in either August or September.

Weaklings take time

August and September remain the busiest months for corporate India, boards and investors. In FY19, 479 of the Nifty500 companies reported a March year-end, with 66 per cent of them holding their AGMs in August and September — a figure largely unchanged since 2014.

As many as 40 companies from the Nifty500 universe reported losses in FY19, and 40 per cent of them held their AGMs in September. “This sixth edition of IiAS’ study on timelines of AGMs of Nifty500 companies, confirms our thesis that companies with weak performance wait till the last minute to hold their AGMs,” the proxy advisory firm said.

 

Besides, the median return on equity is the lowest for companies that hold their AGMs in September. According to IiAS, the trend is continuing for the sixth straight year.

This observation holds true for companies announcing results too. All the listed companies, according to current SEBI norms, should declare their results within 45 days of close of every quarter. But most companies prefer to wait till the last minute to declare their results.

Around 950 companies, that constitute almost 25 per cent of the listed universe of companies on the BSE, have scheduled their result announcement in the last three days, ie, February 13, 14, and 15. Sadly, in the list are a number of public sector companies.

 

The date of the company’s result announcement is a crucial factor in deciding on investments. If the company schedules its board meeting to consider results within the first few days of the quarter end, it signals confidence of the company in its business. Most information technology companies announce their results within the first 15 days of the close of the quarter. One doesn’t have to look far to see the wealth these companies have created for investors over the last few decades.

Weak performers tend to wait till the last minute.

Needless to say, this concentration of AGMs/board meetings makes it difficult for investors to track the performance of these companies. Besides, it may also prevent directors serving on multiple boards from attending all shareholder meetings.

Go ESG-compliant way

At a time when the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) criteria for investment is gaining pace, companies should phase out the timing of AGMs and board meetings, to tone up their governance credibility. After all, these small gestures help pep up investors’ confidence and strengthen their ESG scorecard.

Will India Inc listen?

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Published on February 15, 2020
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