By Polly Pearson, Senior Vice President
Our Blog: The Podium
The new reality is that no public company, no matter how highly regarded or well managed, is immune from activist attention. The number of activist campaigns waged against public companies increased in 2015 to 375 according to the research firm FactSet.
Once an activist surfaces, every move a company makes can have a profound and cascading effect on its long-term viability. Therefore, it is essential to craft response plans before any sign of danger emerges.
It’s the ability to tell a compelling story that will get the investment community excited about your company. It’s also a great challenge for even the largest public companies in the country.
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.
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.
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”:
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.
“Lie to Me.” The name of the prime time drama on Fox is a challenge. “Go ahead. I dare you to try to pull one over on me.” The show’s protagonist, played by Tim Roth, is an expert in detecting deception and is hired by corporations, government agencies and private citizens to analyze body language.
We’ve all heard about how valuable body language is in interpersonal communication, but is Lie to Me more fiction than fact? Not even close. The investment community is now using real-life consulting firms like the one in Lie to Me to analyze the truthfulness of corporate executives.
In his 2010 book Broker, Trader, Lawyer Spy, POLITICO White House Reporter Eamon Javers recounts stories of former CIA agents working with major hedge funds and bulge bracket investment banks. Boston-based Business Intelligence Advisors (BIA) is one firm mentioned by name in Javers’ book. BIA, which consults solely for the financial services industry, including institutional investors and venture capitalists, is comprised of former intelligence community agents.