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Our Blog: The Podium

Sharon Merrill

Sharon F. Merrill is chairman emerita at Sharon Merrill Associates. smerrill@investorrelations.com
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Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff selected as 2014 NIRI Fellow

Sharon Merrill Associates President and Partner Maureen Wolff was selected as one of five new National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Fellows. NIRI Fellows are recognized leaders who represent the ideals of the investor relations (IR) profession, and have distinguished themselves on the basis of their integrity, leadership, involvement and contributions to the IR profession throughout their careers.

Sharon Merrill, Chairman and CEO of Sharon Merrill Associates said, “Maureen is extremely well deserving of this great honor by the National Investor Relations Institute. She has been a leader in the advancement of the investor relations profession for the past 30 years and an ardent supporter of NIRI. Congratulations to Maureen and the 2014 class of NIRI Fellows.”

In the NIRI announcement of the Fellows Class of 2014 , NIRI CEO Jeff Morgan said, “I am delighted to honor these five outstanding individuals who have been so important to the development of the profession and to NIRI’s success. NIRI Fellows are nominated by their peers, and represent the highest standards in the investor relations profession and in our community. We look forward to honoring them at the 2014 NIRI Annual Conference this June.”

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Awards, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, Crisis Communications, NIRI, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

Sharon Merrill EVP & Partner David Calusdian Elected to NIRI Board of Directors

Sharon Merrill’s Executive Vice President & Partner David Calusdian has been elected to serve on the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Board of Directors. David will serve a four-year term, which began at NIRI’s annual meeting on December 4, 2013. Calusdian continues a legacy of NIRI board leadership at Sharon Merrill as agency President and Partner Maureen Wolff served on the board from 2003 – 2007.

Jeffrey D. Morgan, president and chief executive officer of NIRI had the following to say of the four NIRI members elected to serve on the board: “These four individuals are representative of so many NIRI members in their interest in advancing NIRI’s mission and in their genuine passion for the investor relations profession.”

Sharon Merrill, Chairman and CEO of Sharon Merrill Associates, said “We are proud to continue our firm’s legacy of leadership on the NIRI national board. After Maureen’s tenure on the NIRI board, culminating in her serving as Chairman, we are delighted that David is sharing his investor relations expertise as a NIRI board member. Congratulations to David and the newly elected directors.”

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Investor Relations Agency, NIRI, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm

Sharon Merrill Receives Awards for Investor Relations Excellence and Industry Leadership

The firm received a 2013 Bell Ringer Award from The Publicity Club of New England for an investor relations program it developed for a Fortune 500 client. The program included a highly successful investor day. The Publicity Club of New England’s Bell Ringer Awards recognize and honor excellence and achievement in the communications and public relations professions. In the past 17 years, the firm has won an award for investor relations in each of the 14 years it has entered a submission.

Dennis Walsh & Maureen Wolff
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IR Program Planning, Awards, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, NIRI, Investor Relations

Sharon Merrill Associates Expresses Condolences for those Affected by the Tragedy at the Boston Marathon

The team at Sharon Merrill offers our deepest sympathies to all who have been touched by the attack at the Boston Marathon. Boston is our home, and we are profoundly saddened by the tragic loss of life and the grave injuries sustained as a result of these events. As we grieve, we also remember with great pride and utmost respect the heroes who courageously risked their own lives to help others amidst the chaos in the aftermath of the explosions. We also thank the public safety personnel who vigilantly work to protect our city and its people every second of every day. The outpouring of support for our great city has been awe inspiring, and we are humbled by those citizens of other cities throughout our nation and around the world who are in solidarity with Boston during this challenging time.

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Sharon Merrill Associates Wins Platinum Super Bell Award

Sharon Merrill Associates on Monday captured The Publicity Club of New England’s coveted 2012 Platinum Super Bell at its annual Bell Ringer Awards, which annually recognizes the region’s most successful communications and public relations campaigns. We won the Platinum Super Bell for our investor relations program for Gibraltar Industries, recognizing us as “best in show” among the “Gold” winners in each of the 20 communications campaign categories. In addition, the agency also received a Gold Bell Ringer Award for best Investor/Financial Relations Campaign.

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IR Program Planning, Strategic Messaging, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Relations

How to Build a Compelling Investment Thesis for Your Investor Presentation

In a recent blog post, “Giving Life to Your Investor Presentation,” David Calusdian suggests a number of valuable ways to improve not only the investor presentation itself but importantly the delivery of the content. One critical element identified by David is the development of a strong investment thesis that ultimately binds the presentation together. What are the secret ingredients that make for a compelling investment thesis? The answer to this question lies with investors and Wall Street analysts – your audience. As a former equity analyst, global sector head and portfolio manager who’s constructed, presented and reviewed hundreds of investment theses, here are several elements worth mentioning:

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Investor Presentation, Investment Thesis, Strategic Messaging, Presentation Training, Sell-side Coverage, Investor Conference, Investor Relations

The Age of Diminished Sell-Side Research

Sell-side research has undergone profound structural changes during the past decade with far-reaching implications affecting the quality of the research and how research is generated, sold and compensated. Decimalization, Regulation FD, unbundling of trading from research and the hedge fund “brain drain” have all negatively impacted sell-side profitability, product quality and small cap coverage in today’s age of diminished sell-side research.

Decimalization. When the SEC required exchanges to narrow their bid-ask spreads from one-sixteenth, or $0.0625, to $0.01 per share effective in 2001, the profitability of trading floors collapsed amidst tremendous spread compression. While working on the sell-side, I recall hearing many times over, “when we get a trade we can all hear the cash register ring.” After decimalization, I never heard this again. Sell-side boutiques, historically adequately compensated for their research with large bid-ask spreads, now struggled to stay afloat. They reduced staff levels and often swapped higher-priced, seasoned analysts for less-experienced and less-costly researchers.

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Hedge Fund, Disclosure, Reg FD, Sell-side Research, Targeting, Investor Meetings, Sell-side Coverage, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Earnings

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – a Hedge Fund Cloaked within a Traditional Investment Manager

Did you ever wonder who is sitting across the table from you at investor meetings? Would you be surprised to know that hedge fund investors could be sitting right along-side traditional long-only investors? In today’s complex and competitive investment environment where institutional asset managers are increasingly scrutinized for seemingly unoriginal products with excessively high fees and lackluster performance, product managers are looking for unique ways to differentiate themselves, re-craft existing products, and drive additional business. One way to accomplish this is to offer a 130/30 strategy. With this type of product, $100 million worth of equities is initially purchased for a portfolio. Meanwhile, $30 million worth of equities is borrowed from a market maker and sold or “shorted” and the proceeds added to the original $100 million portfolio, thus yielding a $130 million net long and $30 million net short or 130/30 portfolio. The strategy is designed to double up on the best long investments expected to appreciate in price with proceeds from short securities expected to fall in price.

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Hedge Fund, Corporate Access, Targeting, Investor Meetings, Short Sales, Roadshow Planning, Investor Relations

Happy Holidays!

On behalf of the entire Sharon Merrill Associates team, I would like to wish all of The Podium’s readers a happy holiday season! Thank you for supporting our blog.

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Holiday, Investor Relations Blog, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Relations Firm

Welcome to “The Podium”

People often ask me what has changed the practice of investor relations most significantly during the nearly 25 years Sharon Merrill Associates (www.SharonMerrill.com) has been communicating the stories of our clients to Wall Street and to Main Street. Regulation Fair Disclosure? Sarbanes-Oxley? The rise of the mutual fund?

The answer is technology. It has changed everything.

The shift to Internet-driven communications created the opportunity for corporate news to be distributed throughout the world in a fraction of a second. This shift was accompanied by a revolution in trading technology. With the rise of electronic markets came spectacular growth in both transaction volume and the speed of the market’s reactions. Whether the reason is legitimate corporate news or unfounded rumor, the investment community today responds in the blink of an eye. This is a far cry from our early days in business prior to the Internet – and even the fax machine – when our associates would hand-deliver news releases by taxicab to the wire services and local daily news outlets.

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Investor Relations Blog, Sharon Merrill Associates, Social Media, Investor Relations

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

With our new Proxy GamePlan, we create a year-round, data-driven strategic roadmap for effective shareholder engagement. Implement a best-in-class program rooted in a deep understanding of your company’s proxy practices, shareholder voting trends and peer landscape.

Learn More About  Proxy GamePlan

Find Effective IR Counsel

Whether you’re seeking external IR counsel for the first time or evaluating your current provider, you need a firm that understands your strategy, adapts to your culture and tells your story. Download our free guide on how to assess the effectiveness of an investor relations firm.

How to Assess  an IR Firm

Activism Defense

No company is immune to shareholder activism. Sharon Merrill helps boards of directors and executive management teams identify the activist red flags lurking in your shareholder base, assess your governance risks and develop an action plan to prevent, detect and neutralize any threats. Download our free white paper, “Leveraging Institutional Shareholder Relationships to Reduce Activism Risk,” and learn how the best defense against activism is a strong offense.

Download Activist Defense White Paper

Captivate your Audience

Speaking persuasively is critical in today’s competitive business environment. Effective speakers use voice techniques and body language that project authority and credibility. Download our free e-book, “A Guide to Delivering Captivating Presentations,” for insight into good -and bad- presentation habits, and learn how to improve your skills.

Become a Persuasive Speaker 

Perceptions Matter

How do you ensure that investors clearly understand your strategy, growth drivers and market position? The most effective way is through a perception study. By periodically taking the investment community’s pulse you can avoid the knowledge gaps and misperceptions that hurt valuation. Download our free whitepaper, Why Perceptions Matter, to learn more.

Why Perceptions Matter 

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