Recently, we hosted a luncheon discussion, led by the Healthcare Investment Banking group at Wells Fargo Securities, with executives from several life science companies. The primary topic was the outlook for Life Science Capital Markets in 2017. Geoffrey Goodman, Managing Director of Equity Capital Markets at Wells Fargo, and Filippo Petti, Vice President of Healthcare Investment Banking at Wells Fargo, led the discussion.
With our colleagues at NASDAQ, we recently co-hosted an informational luncheon for private-company CEOs and CFOs on the IPO process. Guest speakers included a life science venture capital investor and a CFO of a company that went public in 2016.
The management teams in the audience for the well-attended event had plenty of questions for our guests, on everything from how to prepare for an IPO to avoiding pitfalls to making the transition to being a public company.
Our speakers had much to say. Below are a few of their most important pieces of advice:
Another J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference has come and gone, and this year’s event was perhaps the most hectic yet. Despite the busy schedule, the Westwicke team returned energized by what we heard in San Francisco.
After dozens of meetings with a lot of great companies, two things in particular became clear to me. One is that healthcare stocks seem poised for a better 2017 than they had in 2016. Another is a potential increase in M&A activity. In fact, we woke up on the first day of the conference to the news of United Healthcare acquiring Surgical Care Affiliates. Who knows if this theme will continue through the rest of the year, but many of the quality companies we had the opportunity to chat with this week could be attractive targets to both strategic investors and the sponsor community.
After several years of extraordinary performance, healthcare stocks endured a challenging year in 2016. The Nasdaq Health Care and Biotechnology Indices were down almost 14 percent and more than 18 percent, respectively, year to date, through Dec. 12.
Whether you’re a leader of a public healthcare company, or a private company with plans for an IPO, carefully planned and flawlessly executed investor relations strategies are more important than ever during periods of increased scrutiny from Wall Street.
Some people are a little surprised to hear that a decent percentage of our clients at Westwicke are private, venture-backed healthcare companies. “Why,” they ask, “do private companies need investor relations?”
Having spent the majority of my professional career on the buy side at one of the first U.S.-based healthcare crossover firms, I typically respond by saying: “I often wonder why it takes private companies so long before they do reach out to the buy side!”
With the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference quickly approaching (again), it is now time to start your planning for one of the most important healthcare events of the year. It is not too early to secure your meeting and sleeping space, refresh your messaging for your meetings with investors, analysts, bankers and strategists, and start the outreach to lock in your schedule with the folks you want to spend time with. As you well know, most people involved with healthcare will attend this event and being more organized than the next guy may be the reason you achieve your strategic goals for attending this important event. The J.P. Morgan event is so important, in fact, that I asked our team for their best advice in preparing for the show.
While the window for IPOs has been closed for most of this year, there have been signs of hope recently, with several transactions being priced. However, some bankers we speak to think it may not be until early 2017 that the overall market for life sciences companies really comes back.
Although disappointing for management teams that are trying to responsibly conserve their cash until better days, we think the wait could actually be a good thing for many companies. The extra time allows you to better polish your story and message, and build critical new relationships with potential investors. We think the remainder of 2016 is a pivotal time to be busily prepping ahead of a potential upturn in the market.
So you thought you were on the fast track to go public. You selected underwriters, increased investor outreach, prepared the organization, and probably attended a few conferences. But suddenly the markets turned, volatility came back, and the IPO window closed!
This is exactly the scenario that many companies have been facing this year. The NASDAQ Index is down 1.6% and the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index is down 20.8% year to date — not exactly ideal conditions to take your company public. However, sentiment has been improving recently, and the Volatility Index is at lower levels. The IPO window may indeed reopen soon, and if your goal is to go public when it does, we encourage you to use this time proactively.
Anyone who pays attention to Wall Street knows that 2016 has gotten off to a bruising start. The Dow is off nearly 7 percent since the beginning of the year, and more than 10 percent since peaking last May. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite Index have seen similar declines since their peaks.
That’s a tough environment in which to go public. And, indeed, not a single company did so in January, the first month in more than four years that lacked an IPO. Right now, investors just aren’t sure how to value new offerings while the broader market continues its correction.
The 2016 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference has concluded, and while the market backdrop for this year’s event was noticeably less positive than it has been in recent years, the conference was nevertheless rich with important lessons. We polled our team on what struck them most about the event, and what guidance they’d offer to companies attending future conferences. We found their responses illuminating, and we think you will, too. Enjoy.