Few will deny that analyst research still plays a key role in any investor relations strategy. And every time one of us sees a stock getting a healthy bump in the markets following an analyst upgrade or initiation, we can easily be tempted to believe that analysts wield an enormous amount of influence over a company’s valuation and success.
Should you make expanding research coverage your top IR priority? Have you found yourself pre-occupied with making the cut with analysts and adding more research coverage to your ranks?
However, before you potentially find yourself off course with a misguided plan, let’s consider a few perspectives.
If your company is publicly traded or a private company preparing for an IPO, then you likely have two separate communications tasks, one focused on reaching investors and financial analysts, the other on reaching customers and the general public — Investor Relations and Public Relations.
The two obviously perform different functions, serve different constituencies, operate under different mandates, and typically report to different executives internally. Investor communications are strictly regulated. IR professionals are responsible for communicating a company’s business model, financials and future expectations to analysts, institutional investors, investment bankers, and the like. They usually work closely with general counsel, the finance organization, and under the Chief Financial Officer. Missteps, such as divulging information that isn’t publicly available or engaging in marketing-style hype, can breach securities law and lead to a number of serious problems — shareholder lawsuits at the top of the list.
Hosting the quarterly financial call is a basic task of a public company. Not all investor calls are as effective as they could be, and some can be downright dull and unprofessional.
How, then, should you prepare for an effective earnings call?
Here is a list of 10 do’s and don’ts that will help you get the most out of your quarterly calls:
Is it time to take your company public? Many executives dream of the day when their business begins trading shares on Wall Street, but an IPO is an expensive and grueling process that necessarily distracts you from your core business. And a failed attempt at an offering can damage your credibility for many years.
That’s why it’s vital to be sure you’re ready to go public before you begin the formal process. Here are seven signs that you’re not quite there yet:
It’s hard to believe I have already been working at Westwicke Partners for 90 days. After a long career as a sell-side equity analyst, the last three months have truly given me a new perspective on how I view company management teams vs. how the Street views them.
For 25 years, I was paid to poke holes in stories — and believe me, in many cases it was easy to do and I would ask myself, Why can’t this management team just get it right? Now, looking from the inside out, I can more clearly see some of the reasons.
We were recently asked to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI). The topic was “Creating a Strategic IR Plan,” which is something we at Westwicke, discuss frequently. Joining me on the panel were Gregg Lampf, Vice President of Investor Relations at Ciena and Mary Turnbull, Director of Corporate Access at Raymond James.
It was a great event with a lively discussion, and the points made further validate the importance of being thoughtful and strategic in planning investor relations objectives and activities.
Nobody likes being the bearer of bad news. I remember as a kid breaking a basement window playing hockey and “forgetting” to tell my parents what happened.
Well, after a few feet of new snow, a lot of which accumulated in our basement, my secret was out. I remember my parents being furious, not so much for the broken glass itself, but more because I didn’t take responsibility for what happened. They made me feel terrible by saying what I didn’t tell them violates a trust that is difficult to earn back.
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: