Corporate Eye

Carnival: Send the Lawyers on a Long Cruise

Having just returned from holiday, I thought I would continue my tour of FTSE 100 investor relations home pages by dropping in on Carnival Corporation. I find it’s always best to ease back into the work world after a holiday, and what better way than by visiting the site of a company that makes its living by providing cruises for people. What I found, while presentable, had one jarring inconsistency that set my teeth on edge.

Carnival Investor Relations

The investor home page itself is set up in standard fashion, with all the expected links running down the left hand side of the page. It was laid out in such a standard fashion that it caused me to look up at the web address, and sure enough, I was over on a third party provider site. No great sin there, as many companies use third party providers to run their investor web pages these days, but when the site looks just like a lot of other company sites you’ve seen and a number of the links, such as the Event Calendar and the Webcasts/Presentations section, are empty, it causes you to question the commitment the company has to their Investors site.

These were minor indiscretions however, compared to the opening greeting Carnival gives to prospective investors.

You would think that a company that operates in the hospitality industry would know how to give people a friendly greeting. You would be wrong.

Here is the actual verbiage used by Carnival: “Carnival Corporation & plc operates under a dual listed company structure whereby Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc function as a single economic entity through contractual agreements between separate legal entities. Shareholders of both Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc have the same economic and voting interest but their shares are listed on different stock exchanges and not fungible.”

Does that make you feel welcome? Those two sentences were written by lawyers, for lawyers. I will grant you that the information needs to be on the site somewhere, but not as the opening greeting to investors. And what’s with the use of the word fungible? Only lawyers use (or like) that word. My suggestion is that Carnival send the lawyers off on a long cruise somewhere such as the Antarctic and get someone who can write plain English to write a nice warm greeting to investors.

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John Palizza

John recently retired as a Lecturer in Management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Management, where he taught investor relations. Prior to that, John was in charge of investor relations for Sysco Corporation and Walgreen Co. He holds a MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a law degree from Loyola University of Chicago. You can learn more about John’s thinking about investor relations at his blog, Investor Relations Musings.