Shareholder Freebies: A Thing of the Past?

by: Stockerblog

What are 'Shareholder Freebies' (which are also known as 'Corporate Freebies')? Those are the free things (or benefits) that you get by being a shareholder of a company, over and above any dividends or growth in stock price.

As an example, the local RadioShack Corp. (NYSE:RSH) store has informed me that Radio Shack gives a 10% discount to shareholders of RadioShack, and that to prove ownership, I would just need to bring in a Radio Shack stock certificate or copy of a stock brokerage firm statement showing my shareholdings.

The following three freebies applied to shareholders who elected to receive their annual reports in printed form:

Shareholders of the Boston Beer Company (NYSE:SAM) received a Samuel Adams Talking Beer Bottle Opener last year.

Shareholders of California Water Service Group (NYSE:CWT), received twelve recipe cards, for such things as a Strawberry-Mango Smoothie, Portuguese Sweet Bread, and Sweet Corn Vegetable Soup.

Shareholders of McDonalds (NYSE:MCD) received a coupon last year for an Asian Salad for free at any McDonalds. This coupon appeared between page 12 and 13 of the annual report. The company probably places it there to see how many people actually read the report.

William Wrigley Jr. Co. (WWY) had been known to send out free gum. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has given out free gift cards. AT&T (NYSE:T) has sent out free calling cards.

Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) has been known to be very generous with a big goodie bag filled with everything from CD's to magazines to books, etc. at its annual meetings.

Disney (NYSE:DIS) used to give out free passes to Disneyland when they held its annual meetings in Anaheim in past years. The Anaheim Convention Center was filled with families with little kids.

The parents were smart enough to buy shares in their children's name in addition to their own shareholdings, and every shareholder who walked through the door, even if they were in a stroller, got a Disneyland pass for the day. Then several years ago, Disney started holding its meetings in various cities around the country and stopped giving out passes.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to know prior to the meeting if a company will be giving out anything or not. Nor can you generally find out if a freebie will be sent out with an annual report until it arrives.

There are many more companies that give out shareholder freebies. If I hear about more interesting freebies, I will keep you posted. Or if you hear of interesting ones, please let me know.

Disclosure: Author owns DIS, TWX, MCD, CWT, and SAM.

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