BlackRock CEO warns against short-termism

BlackRock CEO warns against short-termism

The chief executive of BlackRock, Larry Fink, has written to the chief executives of the largest companies in the world imploring them to plan for the long term.


Mr Fink wrote to the chief executives of the companies in the S&P 500 as well as number of large European businesses this week.

In the letter, Mr Fink urged the chief executives to resist the "powerful forces of short-termism afflicting corporate behaviour".

Furthermore, many companies are engaging in practices that may well undermine their ability to invest for the future, he said.

"Dividends paid out by S&P 500 companies in 2015 amounted to the highest proportion of their earnings since 2009. As of the end of the third quarter of 2015, buybacks were up 27 per cent over 12 months," Mr Fink said.

"We certainly support returning excess cash to shareholders, but not at the expense of value-creating investment."

Mr Fink was also strongly critical of the current culture of "quarterly earnings hysteria" in the US, which he said is "totally contrary to the long-term approach we need".

"To be clear, we do believe companies should still report quarterly results – 'long-termism' should not be a substitute for transparency.

"But CEOs should be more focused in these reports on demonstrating progress against their strategic plans than a one-penny deviation from their EPS targets or analyst consensus estimates," Mr Fink said.

Corporate leaders must also pay close attention to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, he said, which have "real and quantifiable financial impacts".

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