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.
Our Blog: The Podium
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.
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:
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.
For months leading up to your S-1 filing, you probably have been singularly focused on creating that massive tome. You have spent significantly more time with your lawyers and auditors than with your own family -- and you cannot even begin to imagine a time when you won’t be spending every waking moment with your bankers. So now that you’ve left the long nights (and great food spreads) at the financial printers behind, it’s time to focus on investor relations. You need to hit the ground running with IR as soon as your company prices its offering, so here are 10 “to do” items before then:
1) Develop your IR website. The IR website must be ready to go live on the day of your IPO pricing. It is most cost-effective to hire an IR website hosting provider, which will develop your site and aggregate content such as news releases, SEC filings and stock data. You also need to prepare additional content for your site such as “Frequently asked Questions,” management biographies and fact sheets. Your website is arguably the most important vehicle you will have to communicate with investors, so make sure it has everything that investors need and expect.
IR Program Planning, Targeting, Board Communications, Investor Relations Agency, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, IR Website, Guidance, Sell-side Coverage, Disclosure Policy, IRO, IPO, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris Lahiji, Founder and President of LD MICRO, a by-invitation only newsletter firm that focuses on finding undervalued companies in the micro-cap space and providing research for its clients. Since 2002, the firm has published an annual list of recommended stocks as well as comprehensive reports on select names throughout the year. We touched on a variety of topics from corporate access, annual reports and even the future of sell-side coverage. Chris’ unfiltered views on these subjects are refreshing and insightful for any investor relations practitioner.