When I started working in investor relations (IR) more than 25 years ago, little did I realize that “creative writing” would often boil down to finding clever synonyms for words like opportunity, growth, and transition — rather than drafting colorful, superlative-rich descriptions of corporate events and milestones. Is it possible to find a new way to express year-over-year financial comparisons or do the numbers in the financial tables mostly speak for themselves?
We are often faced with management teams that seek to fill their perceived “air time” and make their conference call stand out from the hundreds of other calls taking place. If this sounds familiar, and you find yourself wondering how much creative leeway to take with your own quarterly earnings calls, then keep reading as I explain where it’s possible to truly add value, and where it actually detracts from your objective.
Once you’ve made the decision to host an investor day, there are a few critical things to accomplish before announcing it publicly — namely, selecting the date, location, and speakers. A well-planned event is much more likely to be a well-attended event. How can you avoid mistakes and plan an effective investor day? Below, I share a few strategies.
Select the right date.
No one wants to send out a “save the date” announcement only to find out that most of your anticipated guests have a conflict. Be careful to consider Wall Street conferences, previously scheduled investor days by companies your covering analysts also follow, and religious holidays. All of these have the potential to prompt an investor to make the tough decision to skip your event and just listen to a replay of the webcast.
The buy side is structured in many different ways, and knowing the set up and style of your audience is critical both to your pre-meeting preparation and to the level of detail you provide when you answer questions — and whether you take a more quantitative or qualitative approach.
The general buckets to understand are portfolio manager and analyst, but the roles and focus areas of these key players can differ, depending on the institution. So start by asking these questions:
An investor day is a perfect opportunity to get the public up to speed on your corporate story, but compiling the appropriate guest list can be tricky. Having coordinated nearly 100 investor days as a firm, we know exactly who you should be targeting to attract the perfect audience for your event.
Current shareholders and covering analysts
First, and perhaps most obvious, you should invite your current shareholders and your covering analysts. These two groups have a vested interest in understanding every aspect of your business and will be most engaged and active in the discussions during the event. Additionally, given their relationships with your company, this group will show the highest attendance rate.
While most of Wall Street is focusing on second quarter earnings and squeezing in vacations before Labor Day, it’s never too early to begin preparing for the J.P. Morgan 33rd Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this January, the premier healthcare investment conference of the year. If you are planning to attend but haven’t started thinking about logistics, you are already a little behind. Much of the meeting space and hotel rooms are already spoken for, so the time to start making arrangements is now.
Management teams often hear this advice when communicating with Wall Street — under promise, over deliver. While under promising and over delivering is one of the most effective ways your company can build trust and credibility with the Street, it is much easier said than done.
Why are trust and credibility so important? In large part, the long-term value of your stock hinges on how Wall Street feels about your company and how much they can trust what your management team says. Yet building trust doesn’t come easily, and promising more than can be delivered happens to companies of all sizes and stature.
This time of year, Wall Street is abuzz with opportunities to meet, greet, and hear firsthand from you and your management team about what’s happening with your company. There are requests to “go on the road” with virtually every sell-side firm, whether an analyst from the firm covers your company or not. There are also countless investor conferences, bus trips, and industry events — all of which you will be asked to participate in.
The buy side values access to the C-suite probably more than anything else. In fact, many of the major investment firms base the commission they pay brokers on how many management teams they provide access to each quarter. A great deal of money is tied up in these events, so they are important.
Right after you report earnings is the ideal time to get out on the road and tell your story to the Street. Sell-side analysts are incentivized to market with management teams, so they are always willing to sponsor a non-deal road show (NDRS). It’s critical, however, to pinpoint the right city and sponsoring analyst to make the most of the trip.
Non-deal road shows involve planning and work but can deliver meaningful results. Below are what we consider the top 10 benefits.
How can you align your investor relations (IR) efforts with your overall corporate strategy and messaging? How do you balance IR activities with other demands on your time as a management team? Here are several tips from the Westwicke team to help ensure that the strategic investor relations plan you create at the beginning of the year delivers the desired results.
Over time, all management teams want to build relationships, or at least a healthy rapport, with shareholders. Consistent execution of your business plan and proper communication with current and potential shareholders can help you build credibility, which in turn can bolster your company’s valuation and even allow your management team to earn “the benefit of the doubt” when things are not easy.
Last month, we looked at the top 10 ways companies can build credibility with shareholders. This month, we consider the opposite, and explore common ways companies get into hot water. Here are the top 10 credibility busters you want to work hard to avoid.