Chevron Shareholders Meeting = Good Theater

Todd Shriber
 
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While no U.S. company can lay claim to putting on an annual shareholders meeting that is anywhere near as popular and widely anticipated as Berkshire Hathaway's, big oil's yearly shareholder conclaves are usually good for some interesting drama and Chevron's get together on Wednesday did not disappoint. Folks came from all over the globe to protest Chevron's alleged misdeeds.

They came from Angola, Nigeria and Ecuador, you know the tiny Latin American country that one could argue is trying to extort $18 billion from Chevron, just to name a few countries. Great news for the hotel operators and restaurant owners of the San Francisco bay area, not so much for the Chevron (CVX) brass. Such is life for big oil and the reality is there is nothing wrong with a protest as long it is done in law-abiding fashion.

Inevitably, some of the protests started before the shareholders meeting did and I happened to come across one online earlier this week. As someone that believes we are all entitle to our own opinions, I found the piece well-written though I disagreed with it and I also found it to be borderline humorous in a dark, twisted kind of way.

I will not regurgitate the entire piece here and if you are tired of the ''let's pick on the oil industry and only the oil industry'' rhetoric, trust me, you will not want to read the whole thing. In summary, the writer encouraged Chevron investors to vote against further offshore drilling. In some ways this idea is akin to what politicians try to do with taxes on the big oil group: Come up with some wacky idea that is made all the more nonsensical because it would only be applied to one group of companies.

Forgive me for being trite, but a Chevron shareholder, regardless if he owns 50 shares or 5 million shares, telling the company to stop offshore drilling is just crazy. The investor that does this is taking money out of his own pocket. Just to be fair, if this were a legitimate idea, Apple shareholders should force the company to stop making iPads in Chinese factories where workers kill themselves. McDonald's shareholders should chime in and tell the company to just make salads with fat-free dressing, of course. And Starbucks investors should tell the company to stop serving coffee because too much jo has been known to cause prostate cancer.

One proposal that was defeated at the meeting was a plan to put an environmentalist on Chevron's board. Whomever attempted the gambit at least deserves credit for trying and in the essence of fairness, maybe that person should head to the next Hershey shareholder meeting and try to get a dentist on the board of that company. It would only be fair, right?

Todd Shriber

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