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Illinois Tool Works and Relational Investors announce cooperation agreement

BY Brae Canlen

After a series of talks, Illinois Tool Works (ITW) has agreed to give Relational Investors, the activist investment firm, an option to appoint its co-founder to ITW’s board of directors.

Based in San Diego, Relational Investors typically buys stocks in companies it wants a role in managing, including a seat on the board of directors. Proposals often include change in executive compensation salaries and a boost in shareholder values. 

Co-founder David Batchelder joined the Home Depot board in February 2007.

Relational began investing in ITW shares in mid-2011 and, as of the quarter ending Dec. 31, owned approximately 2.1% of ITW’s common stock. The mutual cooperation agreement provides Relational with an option to appoint Batchelder to the ITW board of directors at Relational’s request any time after ITW’s 2012 annual meeting of stockholders but before the 60th day prior to ITW’s 2013 annual meeting. Should Batchelder join the company’s board, ITW agrees to re-nominate him at the company’s 2013 annual stockholders meeting for a customary one-year term. During the term of the agreement, Relational has agreed to support the company’s recommendations for nominees to the board.

"ITW and Relational have engaged in a series of productive discussions about our business and growth prospects," said David Speer, ITW’s chairman and CEO. "We welcome open dialogue with and input from our shareholders and are pleased to have reached this agreement with Relational. Our board and management team remain committed to generating profitable growth and delivering strong returns, and we look forward to continuing to enhance value for all of our shareholders."

Based in Glenview, Ill., ITW’s businesses include construction, test and measurement tools, electronics, decorative surfaces, welding, automotive OEM and aftermarket, industrial packaging, food equipment, and polymers and fluids. ITW’s revenues totaled $15.4 billion in 2010, with more than half of these revenues generated outside of the United States.

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Retail container traffic to be flat in January, increasing in spring

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A report released Thursday by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports should be nearly flat during January compared with the same month last year, but significant year-over-year increases are expected this spring.

“We’re headed into the slow season for cargo shipments, but forecasts indicate that retailers will be stocking up this spring in anticipation of a moderate recovery as the year progresses,” said NRF VP supply chain and customs policy Jonathan Gold. “Cargo volume doesn’t translate directly into sales volume, but when retailers import more it’s because they expect to sell more.”

U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.25 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units in November, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was down 2.1% from October, since most holiday merchandise was already on the shelves, but up 1.2% from November 2010. One TEU is one 20-foot cargo container or its equivalent.

December was estimated at 1.21 million TEU, up 5.9% from a year ago. January 2012 is forecast at 1.21 million TEU, up one-tenth of 1% from January 2011. February, historically the slowest month of the year, is forecast at 1.06 million TEU, down 3.3% from a year ago. March is forecast at 1.2 million TEU, up 10.5% from last year; April at 1.26 million TEU, up 3.8%; and May at 1.3 million TEU, up 0.9%.

The total for 2011 was estimated 14.86 million TEU, up 0.7% from 2010’s 14.75 million TEU.

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Industry Dashboard for Jan. 16, 2012

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Unadjusted NAICS 44413 hardware store sales hit $1.74 billion in November, up from last year and last month. Elsewhere on the Dashboard, gas prices crept upward.

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