3 Companies With Cool Shareholder Perks

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Churchill Downs
Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/TNS via Getty ImagesRiders at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Companies aren't as generous with shareholder perks as they used to be, but there are still a handful of publicly traded companies that give investors more than just dividend checks and the potential for capital gains.

It didn't always used to be that way. Two decades ago I was receiving gift packs of Wrigley's gum over the holidays, hotel discounts at Disney's (DIS) resorts and front-of-the-line passes at Rainforest Cafe just for being a shareholder.

Perks were already drying up a decade later when I decided to chronicle the thinning list of companies still rewarding investors at ShareholderPerks.org. There were still some occasional benefits. Shareholders of Starbucks (SBUX) and McDonald's (MCD) were treated to free beverage vouchers in their annual reports, but as digital delivery began to become the communications platform of choice, we found most consumer-oriented companies put an end to their treats for investors.

Let's go over some of the few companies that still shell out shareholder perks.

Churchill Downs (CHDN)

Churchill Downs is a provider of pari-mutuel horse racing and other casino gaming services. It's the company behind the Kentucky Derby, and folks who own at least 100 shares receive two free passes that allow free general admission at all of its racing and off-track-betting facilities.

Shareholders get access to Churchill Downs' namesake venue, and that means the passes are also good for general admission to attend the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.

Carnival Cruises (CCL)

The world's largest cruise line wishes its stakeholders a little extra bon voyage. Shareholders who own at least 100 shares of Carnival can apply for a stateroom credit on sailings. How much investors get in onboard spending money depends on the length of the cruise. Sailings of six days or fewer get $50, but that ramps up to $100 for journeys between seven and 13 days and $150 for sailings of at least two weeks. The credit isn't usable for gratuities or casino credits.

Reservations must be made by the end of February for sailings through the end of July. Carnival updates the perk annually, but it's had the same credit levels over the past few years.

If you want to save even more money, rival Royal Caribbean (RCL) offers a similar plan with higher levels of onboard credit that top out at $250 for sailings of 14 nights or longer.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) (BRK-B)

Warren Buffett is arguably the best investor of our time, and Berkshire Hathaway has certainly rewarded investors over the long haul. Owners who can afford at least a single share of Berkshire Hathaway also are entitled to discounts on Geico insurance. The rate varies by state, but it can be as much as 8 percent.

However, the biggest perk of Berkshire Hathaway ownership is access to the annual shareholder meeting. Beyond getting to be in attendance while Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger offer investing insight for hours, shareholders also get to shop at the exclusive store during the meeting that offers markdowns from Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. He has run a site listing shareholder perks since 2006. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Starbucks and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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