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Reading your post, I surmised (perhaps wrongly) that you either work for one of these investor-unfriendly companies or you've been effectively brainwashed by the corporate propaganda.

I understand the facts perfectly, and it's imperative that conference calls are open to ALL shareOWNERS. Technically, companies claim that no "material" information is disclosed in the conference calls, but whatever you want to call it, the information management shares with analysts on conference calls tends to be more detailed and useful than anything you find in the press release. I always learn more about a company if I even just listen in on a call.

You say that we can count on analysts to publish the information they get out of the conference calls. This is such a Wise point of view. Has it occurred to you that not all individual shareowners use these full-price brokers and have access to such reports? Plus, it's certainly more Foolish to get the information yourself, if you have the time and are so inclined, than to rely on a second- or third-hand source.

You also say that if conference calls were opened to all, they would devolve into some sort of circus. I disagree. A giant step forward for many companies would be to let investors participate in a listen-only mode or at least to access the conference call reply shortly thereafter. Another option is a live webcast, a service now regularly offered by such industry leaders as Microsoft and Intel.

As for fear of lawsuits, having participated in many conference calls, I can say from experience that management is very careful about what it says to analysts, and it would be no different if the calls were to include individual shareowners. From my research for this collection of articles on shareowner rights, none of the 10 companies I talked to voiced this concern.

Perhaps you didn't get a chance to read the articles in our collection. This is indeed a serious issue, not paranoid hype.

(TMF Puck)

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