Public companies have shareholders and most of these companies, if not all, hold an annual general meeting of shareholders. This is different than the usual earnings conferences and other presentations like an Investor Day or a Capital Markets Day. The formal meeting is usually in the form of a webcast, or in some cases, a live presentation. You would need to log in either as a shareholder or a listener. If you’re a shareholder, you should have been given, through mail most of the time, the proxy statement and/or agenda of the meeting, as well as your voting code.
During the Annual General Meeting, or AGM, the company’s Chairman of the Board usually presides over. Then, the General Counsel or the Secretary will usually provide details of the particulars such as current share count, voter count, tallies, and most importantly, the agenda for the meeting.
The Chairman, or the presider, would usually introduce the board members and/or candidates for a position in the board, as well as company executives or officers who are present in the meeting. Most of the time, polls are opened to company shareholders of record to vote on important matters such as election of board members and/or directors, approval for election of an audit committee or even executive board compensations. These are the usual agenda covered in annual general meetings, but may differ depending on the companies’ preferences or guidelines. Other important matters may be presented in the meeting.
Shareholders are the only ones who have the right to vote during these meetings. Analysts, media and other participants are only allowed to listen in. The shareholders are given numbers or codes that they can use to represent themselves, or by proxy, during the voting process. There are times when the voting actually happens before the meeting and the results would just be presented. The formal part of the meeting then caps off with a question-and-answer session. However, only shareholders may ask questions and should only be about the agenda of the meeting.
After the formal part of the meeting, the company may opt to provide presentations from executives about their products, progress, and their financials and so on. And then, participants other than shareholders may be given the chance to ask questions afterwards. This is much like earnings conference calls or company presentations on different forums and analyst conferences. However, since it’s usually a webcast-only conference, you cannot ask them directly. You may ask them through a form on the webcast.
Public companies are responsible in informing their shareholders about the status of the company and give them the right to vote on matters important to the company, under the SEC guidelines. As a shareholder, you should also be responsible as to the current status of your shares, not only financially, but structurally.