What if your company held an annual meeting and virtually no one came? That's not uncommon when it comes to public companies' shareholders meetings. Most shareholders have grown accustomed to receiving the company's financial updates in the annual report--even if that news is often six months old.

Bell & Howell, Skokie, Ill., decided to change all that by holding the first-ever annual meeting on the Internet. Once known primarily as a manufacturer of movie cameras and projection e

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