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ABSTRACT

Annual shareholder meetings provide an opportunity for shareholders to express their concerns with corporate performance, pressuring managers to demonstrate good performance. We show that managers respond to the shareholder pressure by reporting positive corporate news before the annual shareholder meetings. Specifically, we find significantly positive average cumulative abnormal returns (CARs) during the 40 days before the annual meeting date. The premeeting returns are significantly higher when shareholder discontent with managerial performance is likely to be stronger. The decile of companies with the worst past stock price performance exhibits average CARs of 3.4% and buy-and-hold returns of 7.0% during the 40-day premeeting period. Companies with poor past performance exhibit even higher premeeting returns when shareholder pressure on management is greater, such as when institutional ownership is high, when CEO compensation is high, and when shareholders submit proxy proposals on corporate governance. We complement the evidence based on CARs by showing how managers of poorly performing firms manage the timing and content of earnings announcements and management forecast announcements before the annual shareholder meetings. Overall, the results suggest that managers attempt to influence shareholders before annual shareholder meetings through positive news.