GovernanceMetrics International gave Colgate-Palmolive Co., Pepsico Inc., Wisconsin Energy Corp., BCE Inc., Nexen Inc. and Westpac Bank Corp. a GMI rating of 10, the firm's top score for corporate governance standards.
The six companies produced a total shareholder return of 23.75% for the three years ended Feb. 25 and each has consistently received the highest rating in five or six out of the seven total GMI rating cycles since its 2002 inception, said Gavin Anderson, CEO of GMI. The independent global corporate governance firm today released its latest ratings of 3,400 global companies, including 1,780 U.S. corporations.
"A company that is poorly governed isn't necessarily a poor investment," Mr. Anderson said. "It just means an element of risk associated with that stock that investors should know about. Our job is to provide the information to investors so they have the totality of information they need to make decisions. Unfortunately, (some of them) are making decisions without looking at corporate governance. We think it is an important factor to look at."
GMI found that the number of independent directors at U.S. companies has risen to 73% from 66%. It also noted a departure of "old guard" directors and others no longer serving. "More than 2,000 people who served as directors at U.S. companies in 2002 are no longer directors at GMI-rated companies," the statement said.
GMI, which has generally rated companies semiannually, will now begin to rate them quarterly, Mr. Anderson said