By Ian Rhoades, Senior Associate
Sharpen your company’s earnings process with a combination of tried-and-tested techniques and innovative approaches!
Each quarter, public companies in the U.S. summarize their business performance, tabulate their financial results and communicate the outcomes to the financial community. This period is referred to as earnings season, and it can produce watershed moments for all stakeholders.
Successful corporate officers understand this well. They recognize that their success or failure on Wall Street often can be traced back to their preparation, or lack thereof, in the days leading up to earnings. At Sharon Merrill, we help management prepare for these critical moments strategically and tactically. The following is a 5-point checklist that we have developed from our insights over the past 37 years.1) Master The Macro
It’s often said that context is everything, and in investor relations that means the macro. Do you know what’s going on in your industry and the broader economy? How are the buy-side and sell-side talking about the current environment? These issues will likely be top-of-mind during Q&A as well as in pre- and post-earnings call analyst notes. Reviewing third-party research, reading the financial press, and even talking with your industry’s front-line workers will provide you with a robust understanding of market dynamics. Afterwards, share your findings with management to facilitate message-shaping around those topics.
2) Check Your Pulse
Wall Street is driven by highly analytical people and their expectations for your company, making it crucial to understand their views and assumptions. Quick “pulse surveys” with top investors and analysts are one powerful way to check in on these areas. These surveys will provide you with the topics on your audiences’ minds, allowing you to go beyond your typical content flow and provide investors with information your audience cares most about. Further, pulse surveys provide investors with an opportunity to “feel heard.”
3) Be Prepared for The Questions
Professional investors and equity research analysts have memories like elephants. As such, be sure to review your prior disclosures, long-term strategic plans and narrative positioning. Ask yourself, “What have we shared recently, last quarter, and even at our Investor Day 18 months ago?” Management could likely use a refresher. For those looking to go above and beyond, consider creating a 1-2 page cheat sheet covering all of your company’s publicly disclosed goals and objectives. With a template in place, you can update this document once per quarter as preparation.
4) Find Your Narrative
What key developments occurred during the quarter? Pairing developments together with longer-term goals demonstrates, instead of tells, investors your business strategy. Precise takeaways on how you’re executing against your strategy helps investors understand your company, making them more likely to consider investing. Underpin your takeaways with results that highlight how the company sees things playing out over the long-term.
5) Leverage Photo & Video
We help companies stand out, connect, and positively position themselves with analysts and investors by leveraging multimedia on earnings calls – setting them apart from 1,000s of other public companies. It’s no mystery that news releases with videos and photos drive superior audience engagement, highlighting your brand. By giving the C-Suite a platform to be the face of their companies, video earnings calls are a powerful way to connect with Wall Street and are only increasing in popularity. Customer testimonials can add layers of tangible human experience beyond the numbers to show what your company makes possible. Consider distributing your multimedia materials through key social media sites, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to further your reach.
Earnings season provides public companies with the ability to share results, business developments and long-term goals. Importantly, your company retains a captive audience during this period, providing you the opportunity to frame every detail, then take questions to provide further context. Spending some time looking at the big picture reviewing, updating, and modernizing your earnings preparation process can provide a substantial ROI.
Is your IR program in need of a recharge? Do you feel Wall Street is having difficulty giving you credit where credit is due? With more than three decades of experience, Sharon Merrill can help you plan and deliver a best-in-class investor relations program. Click here for an overview of our investor relations service offerings or fill out the form below for a complimentary consultation.