MainBanner JavaFiller
quote.fool.comToday's FeaturesQuotes, News, Charts, Data

Coffee just isn't my cup of tea. -- Samuel Goldwyn

3M's Conference Call
by Randy Befumo (TMF Templr)

Alexandria, VA (July 23, 1997) -- For investors who tuned into 3M's (NYSE: MMM) conference call replay last quarter, it's tough luck this quarter. Because 3M was "swamped" by all of 100 calls to listen to the 1-800 replay, the company would not release the number for the conference call to the Fool this quarter. With access costing roughly $25 per line, we can see how 3M could be negatively affected by the $2,500 expense. It is, after all, a rather significant slice of their $418 million in quarter earnings, or 0.000005%.

When pressed to explain why they viewed too many investors calling in to listen to the replay as a negative, 3M's Investor Relations department forwarded the Fool to the Legal department. Under listing requirements for the New York Stock Exchange, as many long-time Fools know, companies are required to allow all investors equal access to information regarding material events. Legal maintains that because 3M will issue another press release or an 8-K after a conference call, if any "material" information is discussed, they are in the clear. 3M has issued five 8-Ks in the past three years, most focus on its spin-off of Imation in 1996.

Now, if all "material" information is in the press release or comes out in an 8-K or second press release fast enough that individual investors are still on the same playing field as institutions, why do highly compensated securities analysts and large institutional shareholders waste their time on the conference call? For information that is not "material," a small number of well-placed and very well-capitalized interests seem to care an awful lot. If press releases and 8-Ks were sufficient, wouldn't they simply use them just as 3M wants individual investors to do?

It remains our ever so Foolish contention that as legitimate owners of a sm