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Our Blog: The Podium

Going Public: After You File

In this three-part conversation, Sharon Merrill President and Partner Maureen Wolff shares insights on the IPO process from an investor relations perspective. In this second conversation, we discuss preparing for life as a public company after the registration statement has been filed.

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Initial Public Offering, IPO Roadshow, Registration Statement, SEC, IPO, Roadshow Planning, Investor Relations, Pre-IPO

How Investor Relations Can Support the Buy Side’s Investment Process

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President

“Buy-side analysts truly value a company with a responsive investor relations program led by an informed IRO,” shares John Barr, Co-Manager of the Needham Growth Fund (NEEGX) and Manager of the Needham Aggressive Growth Fund (NEAGX).

Most strategic investor relations programs aim to increase institutional ownership with new long-term shareholders. But anyone who has ever worked in IR knows this is often easier said than done. Targeting quality potential investors and conducting outreach can be a major undertaking. Understanding the buy-side’s investment process for identifying long-term holdings is essential to your success. So what are the key elements of a typical buy-side’s stock picking process? At Needham, Barr’s research team sources ideas from a number of methods, including quantitative screens based on various financial metrics, reading trade publications, and talking to people such as buy-side colleagues. Barr says, “If your stock happens to be on our idea list and you call looking for a meeting then we’ll do it. If it’s not on our list, it’s unlikely that we will take a meeting.”

How can IR contribute? Needham analysts like to conduct their own research – it gives them an opportunity to develop their own point of view – so being undercovered by the sell-side is not always a negative. If your company is being considered as a new investment idea for a firm like Needham, a best-in-class IR program can support the due diligence process from start to finish. Consider these insider tips from Barr to help IROs better support the buy-side’s investment process.

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IR Program Planning, Corporate Access, Targeting, Investor Meetings, Non-deal Roadshow, Buy-Side, Needham, Roadshow Planning, Investor Relations

Sell-Side Coverage – A Small Cap’s White Whale?

By Dennis Walsh, Vice President

I recently was interviewed for an article for IR Magazine titled, “Sell-Side Analysts: The Many and the Few.” The article discussed how some companies manage a full roster of covering sell-siders, while others struggle to maintain or attract just a few. In today’s market, it seems more common that IROs are in the latter situation and are frustrated by the limited return on their efforts to attract coverage.

There are many factors that contribute to the lack of adequate sell-side coverage, and all of these factors relate to the sell-side’s inability to make money by working with a particular company. Low trading volume plagues companies vying for attention from both the buy- and sell-side. The buy-side avoids low-volume stocks because they cannot easily get out of the stock, and the sell-side won’t cover a stock because the lack of buy-side interest limits their ability to generate trading commissions. It’s a vicious cycle. In addition, the lack of investment banking business may create a barrier to coverage. The bottom line is that the bank needs to make money in some way from the research coverage since they are not being compensated from the buy-side in hard dollars.

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IR Program Planning, Corporate Access, Sell-side Research, Targeting, Investor Relations Agency, Buy-Side, Sell-side Coverage, Investor Conference, Roadshow Planning, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations

How Do I Know You’re Lying? Your Body Told Me So.

5 Useful Tips for Reading Body Language in a Business Environment

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media at Sharon Merrill

In business, people aren’t always completely honest. I know…stop the presses! As investor relations professionals, we are constantly playing a poker game with Wall Street. So how do you know if someone is not being completely truthful with you? Read their body language.

Nonverbal communication, or body language, often sends a different message from the spoken word. The way a person shakes hands, gestures while talking, or even crosses their legs, sends subtle but clear signals about the real meaning behind the message. Even a simple touch of the nose may indicate that a person is being untruthful.

Many Wall Street firms have hired body language experts to train analysts and portfolio managers to identify the nonverbal cues that executives give. So it’s beneficial for CEOs and CFOs to recognize these signals, to ensure they aren’t unwittingly conveying the wrong message.

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Investor Presentation, Interviews, Investor Day, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, NIRI, Media Relations, Shareholder Communications, Roadshow Planning, Investor Relations

Form 13Fs – Things that Could Have Been Brought to My Attention Yesterday!

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

It’s that time of the year again. Four times a year, institutional investors that hold more than $100 million in assets under management are required to file a Form 13F with the SEC that lists the securities held in their portfolio and the number of shares owned…45 days prior. Every quarter when I’m going through these filings for my clients, I have a similar reaction as Adam Sandler in “The Wedding Singer”:

Things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY

The 13F filings provide a snapshot into the makeup of a company’s shareholder base at the end of each quarter. While they offer some insight into how a company’s ownership has been trending, they fail to provide who the shareholders are in real time. It is extremely frustrating when the markets are under pressure and volatility is high – as it has been in recent weeks – to not know who owns your company’s stock. During the recent rollercoaster swings in the market at the beginning of August, the publicly available shareholder data was current only as of March 31 (ownership data as of June 30 wasn’t due to the SEC until August 15)! With all the buying and selling that has taken place, a company’s shareholder base could potentially be wildly different since the end of the previous quarter.

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IR Program Planning, Shareholder Surveillance, Targeting, Investor Meetings, SEC, Buy-Side, NIRI, Shareholder Communications, Roadshow Planning, Small-cap IR, Investor Relations

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

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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

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.

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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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