Your board is telling you to go public. Your peers are telling you that this IPO window may close at any moment. You believe your company is compelling enough for an IPO, but are you actually in the position to get one done in short order? How can you make an IPO move faster?
In my last post, I went over key — and sometimes overlooked — housekeeping items you can do to hit the ground running for an IPO, such as ensuring you have the right lawyers and auditors in place and getting a head start on your presentation and website. In this post, I’ll go over strategic choices that you’ll want to think through as soon as possible to improve your chances of a speedy and successful entry into the public markets.
Despite some signs of resistance, initial public offerings (IPOs) continue to move along at a robust pace. With fears that the window may close, some company boards and management teams find themselves scrambling to enter the mix before it is too late. Perhaps by reflex, the first thing they often do is pick up the phone to call an investment bank.
However, before you join their ranks and take your first banker pitch, there are some key – and sometimes overlooked – steps you can take now to ensure you hit the ground running.
You worked hard to prepare for your IPO and made it to the first day of trading. Celebrations are certainly in order, but there is plenty of work in the pipeline. In fact, operating as a newly public company presents a whole new set of challenges.
When it comes to investor relations, the focus of your first 100 days as a public company is to educate and communicate with investors and analysts — and to build on the momentum of the IPO to establish credibility, refine your messaging and vision, and provide the information that key stakeholders need. During this time period, your investor relations (IR) function should be in full swing with set procedures, policies, and designated spokespeople in place. In addition to delivering a well-crafted message, meeting with investors, and responding to analyst requests, we recommend that you create a strategic IR plan for the next 12 months and start preparing to report quarterly earnings for the first time.
Below, we share our view of some of the most important tasks during your first 100 days.
Public healthcare companies often question the best course of action during quiet periods — those stretches of time during which they should limit their interaction with Wall Street due to their knowledge of material and timely information that has not yet been disclosed. Specifically, management teams struggle to figure out what the quiet period means for their investor relations (IR). Should they bring to a halt all communications with the investment community or have limited interaction? Should they answer only fact-based (or historical) questions or avoid inquiries altogether?
While the formal quiet period regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) comes with clear guidelines and regulations, informal quiet periods are far less defined, and variation exists in how much (or little) a company communicates with investors and analysts.
2013 was an incredible year for the United States initial public offering (IPO) market — the best since 2000. Of the 222 companies that went public, a record 55 companies (or 24.7 percent) were from healthcare, which experienced more IPOs than any other sector. Will healthcare break the 55 IPOs record in 2014? Time will tell.
Preparing for an initial public offering can be a daunting task. Once the process kicks off, the wheels spin faster and faster, with deadlines and opinions flying around from everyone involved. What can ease the burden and streamline the process?
Collectively, our team has helped hundreds of companies prepare for their IPOs, and seen the best and worst of what can happen during the process. We consider the year before the transaction critical and recommend these 10 must-do steps.
The road show you take in conjunction with your company’s initial public offering (IPO) represents an exciting and action-packed two weeks. Over that period, you will crisscross the country, meet hundreds of potential investors and spend way too much time on airport tarmacs. While your bankers will have thoroughly prepared you to deliver your “story” to the Street, I thought it would be helpful to share some other thoughts about road shows based upon the thousands of IPO road show meetings Westwicke team members have participated in during our Wall Street careers. Here is my list of the top 10 things bankers probably won’t tell you about IPO road shows:
- You are always on stage. Be respectful and professional at all times – not just in the meeting but in the waiting area and car, as well. Often you will be traveling with an institutional salesperson so remember that this person has a relationship with the analyst or portfolio manager you are about to meet…don’t say anything that would allow them to give negative “color” to their clients.
- Let the person on the other side of the table get the question out. I see this all the time: senior management begins to answer the question in the middle of the question. Let the analyst or portfolio manager completely ask his or her question. Then, clearly answer that question. Continue Reading
We have been fortunate, and sometimes unfortunate, to have observed hundreds of companies go through an initial public offering (IPO) process, and then begin trading as a public company. What is astounding is how frequently healthcare IPOs “blow up” within the first few quarters of their public life. This happens so much so that a small group of investors has made a career of buying these broken IPOs. Why? Because they know that a broken IPO does not necessarily make a broken company.
The challenge, of course, is that once a newly priced IPO blows up, and the stock drops to a point where it is deemed broken, there is an incredible amount of work, credibility re-building, energy and time required to gain back lost valuation and earn back Wall Street’s trust.
Why do companies blow up and when does permanent credibility damage occur? Here are the most common issues that we see:
Recently, I moderated our first quarterly Wall Street Revealed webinar with special guests Grant Miller, Managing Director, Head of Equity Capital Markets, Cowen and Company, and Matthew Perry, Portfolio Manager, BVF Partners, L.P.
While we covered a host of topics related to the webinar’s theme – “A View of the Current Healthcare IPO Market” – one of the meatiest parts of the discussion (and a topic that drew many questions from webinar participants) was on the definition, value and purpose of “test-the-waters” meetings.
These meetings are made possible as an outcome of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which – according to the Securities and Exchange Commission – permits an emerging growth company to engage in oral or written communications with potential investors that are qualified institutional buyers or institutions that are accredited investors, either prior to or following the date of filing of a registration statement. In short, private companies are now able to meet with potential investors before filing to go public. As Matthew Perry emphasized during our webinar, “I love test-the-waters meetings. Every single CEO, board member and management team should use them to know what their company’s IPO is going to be like well before the IPO is booked and filed.”
Unless you’ve been stranded on a distant planet, you’ve noticed that equity markets have been hitting new highs lately, and that’s been accompanied by an increasingly robust capital markets environment, even including initial public offerings (IPOs). In fact, the current public healthcare IPO backlog stands at 14, with many more companies already confidentially initiating plans to pursue going public over the remainder of the year.
As recently as six months ago when we would meet with CFOs and CEOs of private companies (or their venture investors), they would have long lists of reasons why their company would never go public. The reasons included cost of capital, the hassle of being a public company, legal requirements, and compliance costs. All of these are particular burdens for smaller companies. In addition, if executives or investors were looking for an exit, they calculated better valuations if they sold to a strategic acquirer or private equity firm. An IPO was truly an option of last resort. Today, when we meet with these same constituents, we see a dramatic shift in their attitude towards going public.
Changing Tides for Healthcare Companies
So what has changed? The overall equity markets are much stronger, IPOs are getting done and trading up in the aftermarket and sentiment from the buy-side has become much more favorable. Some of this positive change has to be credited to the federal JOBS Act—a series of measures that allows private companies to become public in ways that are less burdensome and less costly.