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:
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.