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The Westwicke Blog is designed to deliver information and insights into the ever-changing world of investor relations and the capital markets, with a specific focus on the healthcare industry.

Make the Most of Investor Conferences

Posted on June 20th, 2014. Posted by

Investor conferences offer an effective platform — and a variety of opportunities — for you to tell your story to investors. During the course of the day you may connect with at least a dozen investors and possibly as many as several hundred. What could be better than that?

Whether you are meeting one-on-one or with small groups, presenting a 20-minute overview to a large room full of investors, or delivering your pitch during a chance encounter in the elevator, it’s important to tailor your presentation to the audience at hand and the amount of time you have. Some helpful tips to raise your impact and exposure:

Think carefully about whether to participate.
Taking part in a conference is one way to show a research analyst who covers your company that you care and appreciate his or her efforts. In fact, buy-side investors indicate that they want to see a company five to six times a year at conferences. This builds a corporate story line over time in the investor’s mind and provides context to assess management’s performance and meet stated goals.

Conferences also give you the chance to share recent developments and updates on the industry. That said, timing must be considered, and presenting at three or four conferences in the same city within a one-month timeframe is probably not a good use of management’s time. You can say “no” to a conference invitation, but if you do, consider offering a non-deal road show (NDRS) at a later date, in a city you haven’t visited in a while to the analysts who currently cover your company’s stock or to an analyst you are trying to convince to pick up coverage of your company.

Know the value of the fireside chat.
Buy-side investors overwhelmingly prefer the fireside chat format, in which the research analyst who covers the company asks rapid-fire questions to the management team. Questions usually focus on the most important issues of the moment, the areas posing the biggest challenges, or the greatest unknowns to the investment community. This format is particularly valuable for those in the audience who don’t know your company well. By listening to the back-and-forth, they gain insight into the most important issues — crucial information they need to develop their investment thesis.

Manage your one-on-one schedule.
Carefully review your one-on-one schedule in advance of the conference, and submit the names of institutions you would like to meet with to the conference coordinator or others at the sponsoring bank. If you see funds on the preliminary schedule that you have met with recently — say, within the past month — ask to have them taken off to make room for the investors you really want to see. Beware of one-on-ones that could turn into three-on-ones, comprised of investors with very different strategies and time horizons — such as a long only mutual fund with a couple of fast trading hedge funds, or a major shareholder who’s been paired with someone meeting with you for the first time. Neither of these situations is optimal, so consider requesting a change. The meetings will be more productive for everyone.

Schedule a non-deal road show around the conference.
Let’s say you are presenting at an investor conference in New York. The day before or after your presentation might be used for an NDRS in Boston, the mid-Atlantic region, or even a stop in Chicago or Denver, depending on where your company is based. Again, you’ll want to avoid doing a non-deal road show in the same city as the conference. Why? You may end up competing with yourself and taking away meetings that could have been done at the conference.

By scheduling a NDRS around your conference, you can leverage your management team’s time and improve efficiency, especially for a company based on the West Coast. This strategy also gives you the opportunity to do the NDRS with an analyst who covers your company. Institutions pay sell-side firms through commissions for bringing management teams to their offices — which makes the NDRS an important tool for building relationships with research analysts and a way to show your appreciation for their credible and thorough research coverage.  So think carefully about the firms you select to conduct your NDRS.

Be sure to follow up after the conference.
During your meetings at an investor conference, take notes of the discussion and flag any items for follow-up. This could involve sending an abstract or poster from a recent medical meeting, answering a complicated question, providing information about trends in the industry, or even setting up a call with another member of the management team. The additional contact with the investor shows that you care about increasing his or her level of understanding about your company.

Investor conferences are an important tool for enhancing a company’s profile in the minds of the Wall Street community. With advance planning, thoughtful execution the day of the conference, and post-conference follow up, you will maximize the benefits of any investor conference. Many investors need to hear your story multiple times before taking a position in your stock — and investor conferences offer a critical platform for achieving this goal.

Need help strategizing your conference plan this year? Westwicke can help. Contact us to start the conversation, and view our Investor Relations Guide to learn about our approach.

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