Not long ago, I had the enjoyable task of serving as moderator for the recent evening program of the San Diego National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Chapter titled “Do’s and Don’ts from the Buy Side and Sell Side.” The panel of two buy-side investors and two sell-side analysts, who cover the technology and life sciences sectors, provided a lively discussion and an abundance of practical advice on the art of practicing effective investor relations (IR). We touched on just about every aspect of IR, from non-deal road shows to the corporate website, and even the perfect length of time for the safe harbor statement on a conference call. Here are some of what the panel considered the top do’s and don’ts for investor relations.
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.
Many factors — inside and outside your company, even outside your industry — affect how investors perceive you. Some would argue there is no such thing as a misperception; in other words, whatever investors think about your company is your reality.
But perceptions can change. If the prevailing perception is not what your management team wants it to be, there are ways to alter the perspective to be more in line with how you want to be viewed. While the efficient market hypothesis states that share prices reflect all publicly available information, investor expectations about future earnings and profitability are imbedded in today’s stock price. Shaping perceptions about the future is an important goal of successful investor relations.
Stepping outside your company to see how others view it is an essential part of perception building. Assessing how outsiders respond to the following basic questions is a good place to start:
- What does the company do?
- Who are its customers?
- How much risk is there in bringing the company’s new products to market?
- What/who is the competition?
- Does management instill and exude confidence?
- What is management’s track record?
- What do bloggers and others involved in the social media sphere say about the company?
In March 2013, a journalist for The RPM Report (subscription required) wrote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had held a “late cycle” review meeting with a drug candidate sponsor. The meeting – an element of the 2012 Prescription Drug User Fee Act-V – introduced a new formalization of communication between the FDA and sponsors, and hailed a new investor relations dilemma for companies: Should “sponsors” disclose what is discussed in these late cycle meetings with the agency, or not?
Late cycle review meetings are a change from past FDA practice; previously the agency engaged in less formal, ongoing communications. Formality might be a good administrative move by the FDA. The agency will now more clearly state what page it’s on, rather than making the sponsor figure out the scenario via a stream of communications over several months.