At Westwicke Partners, we’re often asked for our opinion on the state of the market for new public offerings. And the sad truth is that for all but a fortunate few, the IPO window has been shut tight for more than a year.
But the IPO market, like all markets, is cyclical. This bearish view of new public offerings will eventually turn, just as it has many times before.
A lunch meeting with an investor provides the opportunity to interact in a more relaxed atmosphere than what you’ll find in typical investor meetings. It’s a chance to build rapport and get to know the investor better. It’s also a nice opportunity to strengthen your investment thesis by providing color and anecdotes supporting your strategic initiatives.
But just because it’s not a conventional business meeting doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. On the contrary, whether it’s with a potential new investor or an update with an existing investor, these informal situations include plenty of opportunities to make costly mistakes.
Throughout my 23 years as an institutional salesperson, I had the pleasure to host many interesting and successful investor meetings.
Very few of those meetings went badly, because I always made a point to educate the companies I was traveling with in advance of the meeting. My goal was to make sure the management team had a complete background on the investor they were meeting and a deep understanding of that investor’s investment process and philosophy. I even tried to ensure that the management team knew about any investor’s personality quirks so they would not get thrown off their game during the meeting. Investors can sometimes try to intentionally rattle management teams in order to get them to say things they were not planning to say.
The CEO and CFO are the public faces of any company. After all, they are primarily responsible for delivering the organization’s message during earnings calls and investor presentations and interacting with investors during road shows.
However, no great company is comprised solely of just two C-level execs, regardless of how talented they are. The importance of maintaining a solid management team below the CEO and CFO — quality operating officers and division heads, for example — cannot be overstated.
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 Partners 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.
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.
Your investor presentation is one of the first things that investors and analysts look for (along with SEC filings) when trying to get up to speed on your company. It’s often the first chance to tell your story in a crafted manner.
In other words, it’s crucial.
An effective deck contains a clear communication of management’s vision, the company’s market opportunity, its competitive advantages, and its growth strategy.
Thousands of public companies have just released their quarterly earnings and held those dreaded earnings calls — far more dreaded for those whose numbers missed estimates. While they’re not much fun for anyone, it can’t be overstated how important earnings calls are for your reputation as a leader and for the prospects for your stock.
The call is your chance to communicate your story to the world, to put your perspective formally into the public record. And it’s your investors’ and analysts’ chance to seek clues about your future prospects. In short, the call is something you just can’t afford to mess up.
It would be great if you could attend every investor conference you’re invited to. After all, they’re an excellent way to tell your story, deepen your relationships with analysts who cover you, begin new relationships with analysts who don’t yet cover you, and ultimately target and attract new investors.
But it’s impossible for any public company to go to all of them. There are more than 100 Wall Street conferences in healthcare alone, and many more focused on growth-oriented companies of any industry.
I’ve written before on collaboration between the information “silos” that exist within some organizations and why it is important to establish — and stick to — an internal control process for issuing public information. The other morning, I was reminded why this is so important … and the consequences of what can happen when it breaks down.
Shortly after market open, I received a call from a CFO saying he was surprised by a press release that his company had issued pre-market, about which he was already getting calls from analysts with questions. He had to go to his own company’s website to see what had been released. My second call was from the General Counsel of that same company asking how they could add a Forward Looking Statement paragraph on a material release that had already been issued, as well as make corrections to outdated language in the “About the Company” section.