Many public companies withdrew, or never introduced, formal financial guidance in spring 2020 as a result of severe and widespread business disruption and the high level of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now roughly two weeks into the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2020 earnings reporting season and wanted to share a few notable trends and key considerations that public company management teams should bear in mind as they evaluate whether to give formal financial guidance for 2021.
The Westwicke Blog is designed to deliver information and insights into the ever-changing world of healthcare communications.
As the Biden Administration begins to implement its agenda, and with the 117th Congress now fully controlled by Democrats, the pace of activity in Washington is poised to accelerate. In this post, we have detailed a cross section of the Biden Administration’s domestic priorities, provided analysis of them, and offered a strategic overview of how companies can position themselves to simultaneously benefit from this activity and, importantly, prepare in the event they become the focus of unwanted scrutiny.
Warren Buffet makes the news each year for his letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. By employing his uniquely wry and contrarian style and covering many topics that have little direct bearing on Berkshire’s results or prospects, Buffet has taken one of the staple obligations of a public company CEO, and turned it into something much larger — a kind of State of the Union from the desk of one of our most important business leaders.
Guidance has long been a key component of any investor relations program. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, companies in different industries are now in very different positions in regards to their ability to provide guidance. Some companies may be opting to make changes to their disclosures and areas of focus; others are choosing to suspend guidance until things return to some level of normalcy and predictability.
“Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.”
The late journalist Dorothy Thompson may not have directed these words at corporate management, but the sentiment applies all the same.
Turning on the light and finding out how others really see your business can be a scary prospect. Staying in the dark and not knowing, however, can be costly for companies reliant on capital markets.
Attending Wall Street investment banking conferences is a large part of a strategic investor relations plan. Along with non-deal road shows, management’s visibility and interaction with buy-side accounts during one-on-one meetings are critical for conveying your story to potential investors, addressing unanswered questions, and expanding on an investment theme. But, finding the appropriate conference strategy can be harder than it seems, especially when it comes to lining up a successful meeting schedule with key buy-side accounts.
You are an executive at a development-stage life sciences company. You have just been through the intense and grueling process of completing your initial public offering. Congratulations. You must now look towards executing a strategic investor relations plan. Quickly, you are faced with a significant decision: Should our company host quarterly conference calls?
Ultimately, there are pros and cons associated with both options.
“The analysts are projecting your revenue for next year” — a year in which you have not provided guidance — “at $50 million. Are you comfortable with this projection?”
Most CEOs and CFOs of public companies have heard a question like that — a “trick” question for which it seems any answer you give can potentially cause you problems. If you say you’re not “comfortable” with that revenue number, for example, do you risk projecting weakness to the investor community? On the other hand, do you want to effectively provide guidance before you formally release it?
If you are a healthcare company executive who is contemplating, in the process of, or has completed an IPO, chances are you have met with a number of investment banks. In these meetings, each bank shows a varying number of league tables that position the bank in a positive light relative to its peers. The data presented is useful for finding banks active in your space, but the parameters defining the table can be adjusted to portray any institution in a position of relative strength. The bottom line is that investment banks are good at what they do, and all of their bankers are bright, diligent, capable, client-focused, and extremely hard-working professionals. Without these attributes, they would not be in such a role.
Providing investors with guidance is a key component of any IR program. It is a company’s main avenue to set expectations. Management credibility, an important factor in a company’s valuation, is significantly driven by delivering on these expectations.
When providing guidance, we recommend that you keep these important themes in mind: