Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PETA And The 3% Solution

Image Credit: Outback Steakhouse, Inc.

When does a shareholder try to hurt the fortunes of a company in the name of making a minority point? When the shareholder is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In strategy that would make sense, and would be generally be applauded for its ingeniousness, if a large number of like minded individuals believed the same way, PETA has been purchasing shares of target companies so that they can make a point at shareholder meetings.

The latest episode of a targeted grandstanding came today at the Outback Steakhouse, Inc. shareholders meeting. Outback originally tried to block PETA from placing a resolution on the agenda with the Securities and Exchange Commission but the SEC ruled in favor of letting PETA its say.

The problem comes with the vote of this resolution and how little response the response has to be in order to keep the point of view alive.

Excerpts from the Tampa Bay Business Journal -

PETA takes chicken killing to Outback
Tampa Bay Business Journal - 2:41 PM EDT Tuesday
Larry Halstead

Outback Steakhouse Inc. had a showdown with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at its annual shareholders meeting, held Tuesday at the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa.

PETA, which owns 80 shares of Outback (NYSE: OSI), wants the company's suppliers to begin moving toward using a method called controlled-atmosphere killing by which the chickens are put to sleep. The process is already being used in approximately one-fourth of the European slaughterhouses, said Matt Prescott, spokesman for PETA.

"We're asking for a feasibility study now, not immediate implementation," Prescott said.

Prescott read a statement at the meeting asking Outback to consider PETA's resolution on controlled-atmosphere killing.
Shareholders voted on the resolution through proxy statements in advance and at the meeting. It received approximately 3.5 percent of the vote, Prescott told the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

When a resolution loses, yet receives at least 3 percent of the vote, a shareholder can resubmit the same resolution for vote at next year's meeting. PETA plans to resubmit the resolution at next year's meeting, Prescott said.

PETA submitted similar resolutions at Kroger, KFC and Hormel, and more than 3 percent voted in favor at all three companies, Prescott said.

In order to propose issues for vote at annual meetings, shareholders must own at least $2,000 of the company's stock, Prescott said. PETA buys shares in companies that deal with animals in their course of business.

"Our real goal here is that the shareholders care about animal rights and that the company moves toward that goal," Prescott said.
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3.5% hardly deserves the title of "shareholders".

With only 3.5% representation of a point of view to be brought up time and time again, is grandstanding pure and simple as MAXINE sees it ... and this is an issue (the method of the killing of chickens purchased from a resource) brought up at a STEAKHOUSE operation.

I suppose they are just "Chicken" to take on the main menu items.

Have tests been run on the chemicals used to put these chickens to "sleep" to ascertain if the residual traces of the chemicals left in the chicken tissue are safe for humans to consume? Just asking! We are, after all, feeding humans here.

This effort by PETA at the Outback shareholders meeting gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Curbside Take-Away"!

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