Only they are supposed to know who they are--21 poorly performing companies put on secret early-warning by the $80 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System to shape up by next summer or else. Or else what? If their stock prices don't improve, the companies will likely become public targets of the pension fund in 1995. CalPERS would hit the laggards with shareholder resolutions, vote against their board directors at proxy time, or damage them usingsome other unwelcome action to make its point.
CalPERS is mum about the '95 names, but BUSINESS WEEK has learned that they include National Intergroup, USF&G, Jostens, Software Publishing, QMS, Borden, ASK Group, and IMC Fertilizer.
The nation's leading activist shareholder revealed this new early-warning m.o. in its corporate governance program on Jan. 18, when it went public with the 10 companies it is targeting this year. CalPERS has been meeting with executives and outside directors at Navistar, USX, Eastman Kodak, Westinghouse, Zenith, and five other companies on its '94 list. Changes are under way at many, and at least two--Boise Cascade and U.S. Shoe--face CalPERS proxy resolutions this spring.