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Our Blog: The Podium

Preannouncing Results: Analyzing Corporate Profit Warnings

To preannounce or not to preannounce: Surely that is the question that stumps many management teams during the quarterly earnings cycle.

There are several reasons for a company to preannounce its financial results – that is, provide the Street with a preliminary, high-level understanding of what the company’s quarterly performance will be. Typically, a preannouncement is made in the weeks preceding the full earnings release and conference call. Management also may decide to update investors with preliminary results ahead of investor days, investment conferences and major acquisitions, so that it may speak about the most current financials and not violate Regulation Fair Disclosure.

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Guidance, Disclosure Policy, CFO, Earnings Call, Earnings, Trends

Shareholder on a Shelf: An Earnings Tradition

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President

The Shareholder on a Shelf is a new tradition that has become the holiday gift of choice for IROs to their executive management teams. The story of the Shareholder on a Shelf is as follows:

“Have you ever wondered how the SEC could know;
If you’re naughty or nice in making your reported revenues and margins grow;
For 79 years it’s been a big secret;
Which now can be shared, if you promise to keep it.

At reporting time the SEC sends me to you;
I sit in the shadows to watch and report on all that you do;
My job is an assignment from Ms. Mary Jo White herself;
I am her helper, a friendly scout shareholder that sits on a shelf.

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Holiday, Investor Relations Blog, Reg FD, Sharon Merrill Associates, Investor Relations Agency, Guidance, IRO, Shareholder Communications, Earnings Call, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

Time to Revamp the Quarterly Earnings Call?

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

And the Award for Best Quarterly Earnings Results Conference Call goes to….

Giving awards to recognize production of an earnings call may be a little premature, but several companies are spicing up what is generally considered an uneventful quarterly ritual by the investment community. It is encouraging to see companies embracing the use of new technologies and social media for investor relations. Before you follow their lead, we can’t forget what is truly important to our key stakeholders about the process: transparency and access to management.

So what is all the fuss about?

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IR Program Planning, Conference Calls, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Socialize IR, Earnings

The Greatest Social Media for Investor Relations Panel Ever*

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

*Okay, so I may be biased since I was the moderator, but this panel session at the NIRI’s 2013 Annual Conference had all the elements necessary to help IR professionals develop a strategy for using social media for IR.

Attendees heard from David Urban, Director of IR at Johnson Controls; RJ Jones, IRO at Zillow; Broc Romanek, editor at TheCorporateCounsel.net; Chris DeMuth, portfolio manager at Rangeley Capital; and Sheryl Joyce VP Marketing & Communications at Q4 Websystems.


The key take away from the panel was that IR professionals should take control of or insert themselves into their company’s social media strategy. Since marketing and PR departments typically "own" social media, the challenge for IR departments is twofold: 1) ensure that all activity is compliant with public company regulations, and 2) ensure the messaging is consistent with the overall IR strategy.

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IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Reg FD, Strategic Messaging, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, Disclosure Policy, IRO, Speaking Engagements, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, Activist Investors

SEC Gives Social Media for IR Its Blessing

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President & Director of Social Media

The SEC finally has provided guidance on the use of social media for investor relations. The guidance came in a report on its investigation to determine whether Netflix CEO Reed Hasting had violated Reg FD. In a Facebook status update on his personal account, Hastings said Netflix had streamed 1 billion hours of content in June 2012, calling into question whether the post was selective disclosure of material information.

In its report, the SEC clarified that companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Reg FD. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, but with some key caveats.

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IR Program Planning, Reg FD, Investor Relations Agency, SEC, IR Website, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Earnings Call, Social Media, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations, Socialize IR, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

The Guidance Effect, Re-visited

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

Three years ago, on the heels of the greatest collapse U.S. financial markets have experienced in decades, in conjunction with IntelliBusiness/eventVestor, we published a study, “The Guidance Effect: Improving Valuation” (PDF 875 KB), that evaluated the impact of increased transparency on equity valuation during the turbulent first quarter of 2009.

The findings supported the thesis that issuing quantitative financial guidance contributes to improved stock performance. Given the climate of fear and uncertainty that permeated Wall Street during the study period, we hypothesized that providing guidance – and thereby increasing transparency for investors – likely had an unusually pronounced affect on stock price behavior at the time.

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Disclosure, Reg FD, Sharon Merrill Associates, Guidance, Earnings Guidance, Earnings Call, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

Confronting the Quarterly Quiet Period Dilemma

By Jim Buckley

One of the investor relations issues that companies often struggle with is the “quiet period.” Here I’m not talking about the SEC mandated quiet period related to IPOs, other public offerings or around the release of lock-up agreements. Those all have defined legal parameters and lines drawn around what companies can and can’t do. I’m referring to the quarterly quiet period – where individual companies determine if, when and how they want to stop talking to the investment community as they approach the end of the quarter.

The quarterly quiet period is one of those gray areas that investor relations is famous for, and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach for companies. The fundamental principle behind the quarterly quiet period (or QQP) is straightforward. At some point around quarter end, management has knowledge of the company’s quarterly performance. So investors start calling in the last two weeks of every quarter and asking “How are things going?” They want to get a read on upcoming results through tone and demeanor. As a result, over time, companies began to institute a quiet period with the Street to avoid taking these calls. Makes sense, right? But how does each company handle its QQP? That’s where things start to get a little fuzzy.

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IR Program Planning, Disclosure, Reg FD, Conference Calls, Investor Meetings, SEC, Guidance, Disclosure Policy, IRO, Earnings Call, Investor Relations, Earnings

Investor Relations for the New CFO - Six Steps for IR Success

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

*Originally appeared on Samuel's CFO Blog. Samuel Dergel is Director and Search Consultant at Stanton Chase International. Mr. Dergel specializes in Executive Search for Chief Financial Officers.

As the new CFO of a publicly held company, somewhere on your extensive “to do” list is implementing an effective investor relations program. Whether or not the IR function was a well-oiled machine when you arrived, or virtually non-existent, there are key areas you need to address immediately to ensure that you are effectively taking the IR reins. So here are six steps for success as you accept responsibility for the IR function.

1) Understand your shareholder base. Research the investment styles of your shareholders to determine why they may have bought shares– and what might cause them to sell. See what type of investor concentration you have in your shareholder base. Identifying whether your shareholders are weighted toward a growth, value or income investment style, for example, can offer insight as to what they are expecting the company to achieve near or long term. Also investigate whether there are known “activist” firms among your shareholders, and what catalysts usually cause them to initiate a proxy fight. Make it a priority to speak with your shareholders by phone as soon as possible, and then meet them in person within your first few quarters as CFO. Also consider an investor perception audit to understand the sentiments of your shareholder base -- and identify any misperceptions about the company -- to most effectively build your IR program.

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Disclosure, Reg FD, Board Communications, Conference Calls, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Guidance, Disclosure Policy, Shareholder Communications, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

IRO-zilla and the Earnings Call

There is a popular cable network TV show called Bridezillas that often depicts women planning their wedding day as high-strung, unreasonable and at times displaying jaw-dropping outrageous behavior. Of course, this makes for great reality TV, but at times I find myself sympathizing with these women. After all, it will be the biggest day of their lives – it had better go as planned!

Similarly, the quarterly earnings call is one of the biggest days in the career of investor relations professionals and their companies. A seamless call is an IRO’s opportunity to shine. A call riddled with issues will damage his or her credibility. These calls require weeks of careful planning to ensure that the right messages are communicated effectively to shareholders. However, much like the bridezillas have to rely on other people to design a dress, coordinate the flower arrangements, bake the cake, etc., IROs must work with a variety of outside providers for the services necessary to facilitate an earnings call. With so much riding on the line, there is no shame in taking on the IRO-zilla role and demanding, rather, clearly stating needs and expectations. The IRO’s professional reputation is at stake.

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IR Vendors, IR Program Planning, Investor Relations Agency, IR Website, NIRI, IRO, IR Budgets, Earnings Call, Social Media, Investor Relations, Earnings, Investor Relations Firm

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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.

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Captivate your Audience

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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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