Dick’s Disregards Shareholder Concern

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posted on June 17, 2018
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In high school economics, they said that stockholders were the owners of a company in a capitalist economy. Check. So, stockholders are the “boss.” Check. So, the chief executive officer is suppose to listen to stockholders’ concerns. Check—well, maybe not so much if the company is named Dick’s Sporting Goods.

It’s not news that the corporate leaders at Dick’s hate guns. We’ve seen too many instances to prove that lately, from the store arbitrarily raising the age to purchase long guns to 21 (although federal law says it is 18), to saying it would stop selling semi-automatic rifles, to announcing it would destroy every such rifle it had in stock. It even hired a gun control lobbying group to push its agenda in Washington, D.C.

But it has gotten more galling, if you can believe it. When Dick’s had its annual shareholders’ meeting in Pittsburgh recently, CEO Ed Stack showed utter disdain for the basic laws of economics. When a shareholder challenged the company’s decision to put its anti-gun advocacy above the interests of investors, Stack said it was just “fine” if that investor and others never shopped in Dick’s again!

Well, Stack is free to feel that way, personally. But when it comes to making company decisions based on one’s perverted sense of righteousness, it might be time for a coup d’etat at Dick’s.

The National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP) sent a representative to the meeting, much as the group has done for previous board meetings of United Airlines and Bank of America, for example. In the open comments session, David W. Almasi, told shareholders: “Stack seems to believe that most customers support the company's politicized retail strategy, but he has also acknowledged that these decisions could harm shareholders' return on investment. This is irrational and irresponsible, and I don't consider it a sustainable strategy.”

Indeed, in its last earnings report, Dick’s reported a downturn in sales related to all things hunting.

Stack admitted Dick's change in gun-related sales "did alienate some gun owners," but insisted that "we're not going to change" the policy. "We as a company and a board stand by our decision." even though it could mean that hunters and supporters of the Second Amendment “won't be back."

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