Corporate Eye

The Minimalist Approach to IR Websites

Mies van der Rohe, one of the founders of modern architecture, famously said, “less is more”.  I have now found an investor relations website that attempts, unsuccessfully, to put this into practice.  

Kroger, a U. S. supermarket chain, has an investor relations section that consists of four pages.  The initial page contains a table with quarterly high and low stock prices and six facts about the company: number of employees, number of shareholders, shares outstanding this year, shares outstanding last year, stock ticker and exchange it is listed on.  

That’s it, nothing else, which makes it kind of difficult to form any sort of investment opinion about them.

I thought that was minimalist, but the next page takes it a step further.  Their FAQ page lists exactly six questions that they deem important enough to list.  On the third page, the effort to supply useful information about the company is not better. You want a report about the company?  Your first default is that the company sends you off to the SEC Edgar database.  You want to see the company’s annual report?  You have to dig through 73 pages of a proxy statement before you get to the most recent annual report.  No indexes, no tabs – you’re on your own if you want to find helpful data.

Finally, the webcasts page lists a link to a single upcoming event – no archive of past presentations, nothing to give you much context.

Oh well, I’ve never been much of a fan of modern architecture anyway.  In this case I think more would be more.  

Kroger has evidently decided one of two things: 1.) They are only going to provide the minimum amount of information they possibly can, or 2.) Let all those pesky investors go somewhere else to find the information.  After all, there’s a whole world wide web of information out there.  In either case, they are effectively driving investors away.  That can’t be good for their stock price.

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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.