I get e-mails from people all the time looking for good reading material. Most of you have already red the basics like The Intelligent Investor, One Up On Wall Street, or all of Warren Buffett’s letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Beyond that, most recommendations hinge upon the specifics of the person asking. Some people think they want investment advice, but really what they need is a good estate planning book. Others need to read Dividends Don’t Lie to understand why some industries with high dividend payout ratios can have safer dividends than those with lower payout ratios. Other people are too focused on numbers and probably need to find something like The Speed of Trust.
It is not terribly unusual for some companies to create a dual class structure for the stock. Hershey, Google, and Ford immediately come to mind. In every example of this I have ever studied, the purpose is to keep ownership control in the hands of a select few that want to maintain control over the company by scaling back their investment in it. It’s a controversial practice—people think that investors with $500 million worth of stock should wield 10x as much influence as someone with $50 million in the firm. Others find the practice tolerable because investors have notice of the arrangement at the time they make their investment, and plus, the original founding families that own the firm through the decades may have more of a long-term orientation than some random guy that gets his hands on a large block of stock.