When shopping for a major purchase, say for a new home or car, many people wisely draft lists of must-have features and optional nice-to-have features.
Compiling a list of needs and wants is also valuable to companies searching for an investment bank, especially given how frequently they fail to evaluate a key feature: the banks’ institutional sales forces. During my 18 years on Wall Street, I can’t tell you how often I saw companies make the mistake of considering the right sales force a want-to-have feature, when they should have considered it a must-have.
Last year was a record for biotechnology IPOs, with some 82 companies raising a combined $5.5 billion. Not all IPOs are created equal, however. A good IPO is one that benefits all stakeholders and leaves the door open to future mutually beneficial collaboration.
What, then, are the secrets of successful IPOs?
Let’s start with one of the basics. The success of an IPO is judged first on whether or not participating investors make money on the transaction, and secondarily, on whether the listing company raises the funds it was seeking.
A CEO transition can be a time of great risk for a company’s stock as Wall Street attempts to determine all that the change signals. If a change in leadership is not communicated properly it could make your investors nervous. Effectively communicating the CEO succession can help boost confidence in investors — and prevent long term harm to your share price.
Here are a few guidelines to help effectively communicate a CEO transition:
When I started working in investor relations (IR) more than 25 years ago, little did I realize that “creative writing” would often boil down to finding clever synonyms for words like opportunity, growth, and transition — rather than drafting colorful, superlative-rich descriptions of corporate events and milestones. Is it possible to find a new way to express year-over-year financial comparisons or do the numbers in the financial tables mostly speak for themselves?
We are often faced with management teams that seek to fill their perceived “air time” and make their conference call stand out from the hundreds of other calls taking place. If this sounds familiar, and you find yourself wondering how much creative leeway to take with your own quarterly earnings calls, then keep reading as I explain where it’s possible to truly add value, and where it actually detracts from your objective.
Once you’ve made the decision to host an investor day, there are a few critical things to accomplish before announcing it publicly — namely, selecting the date, location, and speakers. A well-planned event is much more likely to be a well-attended event. How can you avoid mistakes and plan an effective investor day? Below, I share a few strategies.
Select the right date.
No one wants to send out a “save the date” announcement only to find out that most of your anticipated guests have a conflict. Be careful to consider Wall Street conferences, previously scheduled investor days by companies your covering analysts also follow, and religious holidays. All of these have the potential to prompt an investor to make the tough decision to skip your event and just listen to a replay of the webcast.
When it comes to investor relations (IR), remember that your company’s Internet presence often makes the first impression. In today’s frenetic capital markets environment, potential investors will often use your corporate website to quickly understand the fundamentals of your business before they decide to allocate time to a meeting with management.
The primary purpose of having a corporate website, of course, is so that you can easily share your company’s “story” with the marketplace. In order to be effective, the story must be communicated thoroughly, accurately and consistently across your website and all of your digital media, in a way that is easy for visitors to consume, understand and navigate.
A great company does not always make a great stock. And a great stock does not always make a great stock for a sell-side analyst to cover. What are analysts looking for when they launch on new names? What can you do to get an analyst to consider you for their coverage universe?
These three questions can help you determine the likelihood of getting an analyst to begin to write research on your company.
If one word alone could describe the J.P. Morgan 33rd Annual Healthcare Conference, that word, from my purview, would be productive. I met one-on-one with management teams from 44 companies, and nearly our entire team came together in San Francisco that week to take part in the conference and help clients fine-tune and deliver on their 2015 investor relations plans.
At Westwicke, we consider J.P. Morgan the “super bowl” of investor conferences. No, we don’t eat chicken wings and shout at the TV, but a lot of action happens at J.P. Morgan — this year even more than in the past. And just like in football, it pays to show up ready and prepared because, as we’ve discussed before on this blog, an elevator ride with the right person (and the right pitch) can make all the difference.
Mark Twain said that the “difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
There’s a lesson in there for all of us. Say the wrong thing (or even the right thing poorly) and you’re going to underwhelm, disappoint, confuse, or even lose your listeners. And during your company’s earnings call, mistakes like that can cause a crisis.
In the past several months, we have been asked by several of our medical device and diagnostics clients to conduct perception audits. Some were small and focused, with specific and timely topics in mind, whereas others were broad-based with long-term objectives. Often, investors and analysts provide feedback that is difficult to hear — especially when they are giving it to a third party and their comments will be confidential and/or not ascribed to them.
While no one wants to receive (or provide) negative feedback, it is important and often can be the most constructive data. If we could offer only one piece of advice to our clients, it would be to listen openly and objectively to your shareholders and analysts when you ask them for their opinion. Don’t try to talk them out of their viewpoint (for which you just asked them), and don’t discount their opinion because they are at a hedge fund or you think they don’t understand your company. Chances are, whatever their perspective, there are others with the same view. Investors are often happy and willing to offer their feedback — especially on a stock position that is meaningful to their fund performance — in an effort to help management teams communicate better. Let them. We think it’s enormously valuable, as their perceptions are your reality.