It’s time for management teams to start thinking comprehensively about their 2016 investor relations strategies. What did you learn in 2015, and how will you put that knowledge into action next year? Should you shift your IR focus, or stay the course?
Here, our team of IR experts at Westwicke answers these and other questions, and shares advice to help you create a top-notch investor relations plan that aligns with your company’s goals and priorities.
IR planning starts by pulling together a calendar that includes key corporate and investor events. Build out your calendar with covering analyst’s investor conferences and industry events that you know you will be attending. Add in proposed quarterly reporting dates, quiet periods, board meetings, and other planned corporate milestones — such as a new product launch or regulatory approval. Then look for obvious open windows for investment bank-sponsored non-deal road shows and timing for strategic press releases. Finally, consider goals for 2016, i.e., new analyst coverage and identify the dates of their relevant investor events or opportunities for a personal visit. This overview of the year provides a high level look that seeks to maximize management time and leverage strategic events.
Plan ahead — both in terms of shareholder and analyst targeting as well as developing your IR calendar. We work with our clients to create a rough plan for their 2016 IR calendar of investment bank-sponsored conferences, non-deal road shows, analyst events at industry tradeshows, and bus tours by the end of 2015, with the first half of the year more definitively planned. This helps to create a framework for the year, and lets the company proactively reach out to the analysts with tentative plans as well as reply quickly to incoming invitations.
Leverage the sales teams at your investment banking firms. Earlier this year, I published two posts (linked here and here) on how to most effectively interact with the sales teams of your banking partners. As you think strategically about leveraging everything you are doing around your IR strategy for 2016, I encourage you to tap into the resources and skill set of the institutional sales people you will come in contact with throughout the year.
Of course, the analysts and investment bankers you know and trust are, and will continue to be, important relationships for you to nurture. I also believe that institutional sales people can provide you with valuable market intelligence, access to important investors, and hopefully additional sponsorship of your investment story to their client base. Do not overlook this additional opportunity to take advantage of all of the hard work you are producing with the other aspects of your strategic IR plan. Make 2016 the year you leverage all of the resources available to you.
Work out your investor conference presentation strategy and execute:
Best practice for a publicly listed company means presenting at six to eight investor conferences each year, as a tool to help maximize your time with the buy side. There are a lot of conferences to choose from, but only a small portion is worth management’s time and effort. Talk to your IR counsel about which ones have the greatest chance of putting you in front of the funds that are most likely to be interested in your story and can own your shares. You should also plan your sell side and banking outreach in advance of the conferences you want to attend in order to guarantee yourself a presentation slot and appropriate one-on-one meetings. Remember to wisely use any financings or strategic engagements to attain new or additional conference invitations by widening your traditional banking syndicate.
For companies that provide fiscal year revenue guidance — include your expectations for the impact of changes in foreign currency exchange rates on both a dollar basis and on a percentage growth basis. This allows you to report your financial performance each quarter — and the impacts on your revenue performance related to FX — so that investors understand the organic growth performance in the period, and, because you’ve been transparent in your detailed guidance, if exchange rate volatility impacts your reported results more or less than expected, your transparent approach to guidance will allow investors to quickly understand and adjust for the delta.
Think creatively when targeting new investors. Often, small-to-mid cap companies focus on visiting the “usual suspects” of buy-side accounts as potential new investors in their stock. Sometimes planning a non-deal road show to a less-common geography (outside of New York, Boston, and the West Coast) can turn up stable long-term shareholders.
Plan for multiple capital market scenarios — have a plan for a good market and a bad market. In good years (when the capital markets are open and companies can raise money), getting analyst coverage and new investors might be part of a financing. When the market is tighter, companies may have to go with more traditional methods of getting attention.
Take the time to gauge analyst and investor perceptions and potential concerns. Through a well-crafted perception study among a broad base of investors and analysts, or simply from a smaller set of key shareholders or prospective shareholders, create a baseline analysis of investment community viewpoints. Being aware of the opinions and expectations of investors and analysts assists companies in clarifying, altering or reinforcing their message to the financial markets for the upcoming year.
Don’t be too quick to turn down headquarter visits or participate on investor bus tours. They are low stress in terms of travel and logistics for you and the group of investors are typically high-quality and informed about your company.
These tips should help with your planning for an effective investor relations program in 2016. To learn more about Westwicke’s approach, read our IR Guide.