14 August 2019

A new take on guns and butter

According to the WSJ, some public companies are telling investors about how gun violence could affect their financial performance.

Public companies such as Dave & Buster’s Entertainment, Del Taco Restaurants and Stratus Properties, a Texas-based real-estate firm, have added references to active-shooter scenarios in the “risk factor” section of their most recent annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to analysis of regulatory filings by the Wall Street Journal. 

“Active shooter situations”

The section of regulatory filings includes potential catastrophes like natural disasters and terrorism alongside other risks like rising labor costs and strong competition. The Cheesecake Factory has included it in its past four annual reports, warning investors about active shooter situations as a risk factor in its annual reports. “Acts of violence at or threatened against our restaurants or the centers in which they are located, including active shooter situations and terrorism, could unfavorably impact our restaurant sales, which could materially adversely affect our financial performance,” the Cheesecake Factory said in its latest annual report. “People are legitimately trying to think through whether it’s responsible to put a risk factor like this in the document,” said David Martin, senior counsel at Covington & Burling.

Mass shootings

The disclosures come as fatalities in mass public shootings have risen in recent years. Between 2016 and 2018, active shooter incidents led to 306 deaths, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, up from the previous three years when active shooters killed 136 people. Two mass shootings in the last week have resulted in 31 deaths. A massacre at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas left 22 dead. Walmart did not refer to “active shooters” as a potential risk in its most recent annual report, filed March 28. It does list terrorist attacks as a risk that could affect its operations and financial performance. In a comment on the shootings, Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon wrote “We’ll be thoughtful and deliberate in our responses, and will act in a way that reflects our best values and ideals, focused on the needs of our customers, associates and communities.” The WSJ reports that Cheesecake Factory and Stratus declined to comment, while Dave & Buster’s and Del Taco didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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