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.
Last week, Histogenics became the 100th initial public offering (IPO) in the healthcare sector in 2014, with pharmaceutical and biotech companies leading the pack. Healthcare IPOs now account for close to 40 percent of all IPOs registered for the year, more than any other sector.
At Westwicke, the year has passed in a flash, with our investor relations, capital markets, and IPO advisory experts crossing multiple time zones regularly to meet with clients and attend conferences and road shows. We shared some of our experiences and key takeaways in our last blog post, “Lessons Learned in Healthcare IR from 2014.” Here, we’d like to reveal our most popular blog posts of the year — and share essential points that can help you plan for the year ahead.
As the year comes to a close, people everywhere are looking ahead to 2015 and speculating what will happen. Will biotech valuations continue to soar? What role will hedge funds play? How will the healthcare market abroad influence the market at home?
While we contemplate these questions and work with companies to plan for 2015, we’re also taking time to reflect on 2014 — and lessons learned from what has been a rollercoaster ride of a year. Here, I share insights from some of our conversations and tips to take with you as you inch closer to the new year.