Joel Lawson IV, an investor who owns about 9 percent of the Lacey-based parent company of Anchor Bank, is back. But this time he wants a larger say in the direction of the company, according to a preliminary proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Two years ago, Lawson of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, filed a letter with the SEC, proposing that the board of directors consider a sale or merger to maximize shareholder value. He owns 225,000 shares of common stock in Anchor Bancorp,
This time around, Lawson wants a seat on the board and is asking other shareholders to support his effort. The company’s annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 21 at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE, according to the filing.
In the filing, Lawson explains that he has been one of the largest Anchor shareholders since 2011, and acknowledges that the company has been able to resolve problem loans. But now the company is facing what he calls a “long, difficult journey” to earn its cost of capital.
“I believe that this path is a long and uncertain one, and that the company must evaluate all strategic options in order to maximize value for shareholders, including a possible sale of the company.”
Lawson also provides several examples of how Anchor Bancorp is performing compared to a peer group. Under loan growth, for example, year-over-year loan growth at Anchor has been flat, according to his data, while average loan growth for the peer group is up 11.7 percent over the same period, the data show.
Still, Anchor Bancorp recently reported net income of $624,000, or 25 cents a share, for its fiscal fourth quarter, compared to net income of $298,000, or 12 cents a share for the same period a year ago. The company also recently announced that it will buy back up to 127,500 shares of common stock.
Anchor Bancorp President and Chief Executive Jerry Shaw could not be reached Thursday.
Fred Roebke, vice president of investment securities for Seattle-based stock brokerage firm Martin Nelson & Co. Inc., said Thursday he would encourage shareholders to read Lawson’s proxy filing.
“The points he is making are valid and he should be considered for membership on the board,” he said. “It would concern me if management were not open to the ideas he is presenting.”
Martin Nelson works with about 50 Anchor Bancorp shareholders, he said.
“I’m looking out for shareholders,” Roebke added.
On Thursday, Anchor’s stock, which trades under the ticker symbol ANCB, rose seven cents to close at $22.10 a share. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $23.85 and $19.80 a share.