Category Archives: Investor relations

Context helps online engagement flourish (example: RetailInvestorConferences.com)

Following up on last month’s post placing “IR engagement” in an uncomfortable juxtaposition with social media (read here), we have an example of engagement in a positive light. What’s key to note is that the technology used is, well… pretty darn social. The difference is the engagement’s context sets an appropriate expectation for dialogue.

On April 3, we held our 37th event at RetailInvestorConferences.com. These events are virtual investor presentations– CEOs and other executives webcasting to hundreds of current and potential investors. These conferences are not one-way CEO monologues. They are open dialogues. In fact, our presenting companies tell us again and again that the two-way engagement is the favorite aspect.

Two opportunities to engage:

1.) During the live, formal (slide) presentation, individual and institutional investors - at par - text in questions, live in real-time.  As you’ll read below, these are not softballs.

RIC_Qs

The CEO worked his way through the whole list. Details fuzzed for privacy. Click to enlarge the image.

2.) Post presentation, everyone is automatically transferred into the presenting company’s “virtual trade booth” where the Q&A session continues in a social media chat mode. 100% open and un-squelched. That’s about as social as you can get. Kudos to our transparent and “social” CEOs.

This is the live chat dialogue - still open to read in the company's booth... no need to fuzz here!

This is the live chat dialogue – still open to read in the company’s booth… no need to fuzz here! Click the image to read. 

Why is this mode of social media engagement successful for the issuer and investor alike?  It’s the context of the event itself:

  • The CEOs and senior teams have set aside the time expressly to have a dialogue with investors. As we know (read here), bandwidth is a concern of IR in regards to “ad hoc” social media. The investors (audience members) know their question will be seen and answered.
  • The booth discussion is generally in context to the preceding presentation. That focuses everyone to stay on point. No slip-of-the-selective-disclosure tongue.
  • It’s a committed audience. An audience member must take the brief effort to log-in to attend the event. From a Marketing POV, that action qualifies the person which generally affirms their engagement and interest. The issuers get hard, educated questions.

Proudly, last week’s event was one of our best – all focused on MLPs. The audience was a blend of retail and professional investors from:

Alhambra Investment Partners, LLC  |  Alliance Financial Group, Inc.  |  Allstate Financial  |  Antonio Financial Group  |  ARK Investment Management  |  AXA Advisors  |  Axiom Capital  |  Berkshire Capital  |  Bryan Advisory Services LLC  |  Commerce Family Office  |  Credit Capital Investments, LLC  |  Cypress Wealth Management, LLC  |  Deutsche Bank  |  Emerald Bay Wealth Management  |  Fidelity Investments  |  First Dallas Securities  |  Georgina Asset Management  |  Gratia Capital  |  Great Valley Capital Advisors  |  Infrastructure Capital Management, LLC  |  Jones-Richards Capital, LLC  |  Merrill Lynch  |  Millennium Capital   |  Montage Investments  |  Mutual of Omaha Investor Services  |  Needham & Company  |  Oppenheimer & Co.  |  PHS Investment Capital  |  Rosenthal Advisors  |  Schneider Investments  |  Sofia Capital Management  |  Steiner & Ellis, PLLC  |  Tamarin Financial  |  Tandem Wealth Management  |  The Public Register  |  Tiger Veda Management LLC  |  United Capital Financial Advisers  |  Wallach Planning & Investments  |  Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC  |  Woodberry Capital  |  SilverArc Capital  |  SMB Financial Services  |  Vestra Financial  |  Waterfront Capital, Inc.

Engagement is essential to investor relations:  set and meet expectations for dialogue in any media.

Have a great day.

a

IR should not “engage” in social media

It’s been a full year since the SEC released new Regulation Fair Disclosure guidance in regard to social media. Oversimplified, on April 3, 2013, the SEC stated that social media distribution is at legal disclosure par with the other distribution methods.

picard

 

Needless to say, the new guidance has not created a watershed, transformational or disruptive event. The year has given us a few examples, both pro and con, of investor relations departments branching out in social media. That’s very good, because social media is how millions of people work and play online. Undeniable.

And that brings us back to the title of this blog: IR should not “engage” in social media. Obviously, the key word to focus on is engage. Its a great word for marketing, an excellent word for sales – but it is an unrealistic social media word for investor relations. It indicates interaction and dialog. As this survey shows, unrealistic.

IR should broadcast in social media. Get your news into the stream broadly and non-selectively. Especially StockTwits and Twitter. You don’t need to participate in any conversations, but you certainly should enable conversations amongst the Cashtaggers - the hipster name for investors who discuss stocks in StockTwits and Twitter. Let the Cashtaggers engage about your company.

Also, stop looking for IR social media ROI. IR won’t find any that fits into the current investor relations success metrics. Another suggestion is don’t expect to find your targeted institutional investors or analysts in the stream. Privacy and intellectual (trade) property is their DNA. Institutional investors and portfolio managers don’t file their SEC 13-Fs until the last possible moment… they sure as heck are not going to tweet “I’m long on $XYZ.” (BTW, the Carl Icahn “single tweet” example is a predatory marketing example, not a capital markets example)

End game: What is IR to do?

  • Automate your press releases to distribute into StockTwits and Twitter. This automation mitigates RegFD risk.
  • Always use your cashtag in your posts.
  • Ask your PR team to use your cashtag in their posts.
  • Unless you have important market moving news, don’t fill your brain with monitoring your cashtag. It will be meaningless and will make you dislike social media even more. Mostly, you’ll see quick bits from day traders.
  • Don’t pepper your social media with personal quips or interesting articles. Social media is an SEC recognized disclosure channel and anything your post will be dissected by the SEC and predatory investors looking for hints. Set the precedent with investors “this is all news.”
Click image to get our "How to" IR & social media whitepaper

Click image to get our “How to” IR & social media whitepaper

That last point is a little gray, especially for small and microcaps. Social media could be used strategically as an important channel to Cashtaggers / day-traders, an important source of liquidity. Small and microcaps often fill the role of being their own “sell-side analysts,” but be wary – exactly as Yahoo Chat boards, these folks are not your friends, have zero interest in a relationship and are going to sell you at the first winning opportunity.

Social media is a mature media. By now, we all know what and where it excels and falters: that knowledge removes the risk. It is neither IR’s Holy Grail nor Black Plague: it is a distribution channel… a viable tile in the shareholder communications mosaic.

IR should broadcast in social media. Get your news into the stream broadly and non-selectively.

Have a great day.

USA IR Awards are this Thursday!

63 public companies are hoping to win at the 2014 USA IR Awards in NYC. Hosted and created by IR magazine, this annual Black Tie event highlights the success of IR as voted by investors.  We’re pleased to attend once again to celebrate our industry.

Take a look at previous years’ photos: 2012 & 2013.

IRAWARDSBUTTON

 

The companies up for awards in a variety of categories are:

  • 21st Century Fox
  • Actavis
  • Allscripts Healthcare Solutions
  • American Express
  • Antero Resources
  • Ares Capital
  • ASML (Netherlands)
  • Baidu (China)
  • BlackRock
  • CBS ‒ Leslie Moonves
  • Cerner ‒ Marc Naughton
  • CIT Group
  • Covidien
  • CR Bard ‒ Todd Garner
  • Danaher
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Discover Financial Services
  • Edison International
  • Facebook
  • Foundation Medicine
  • Gigamon
  • Google
  • Herbalife
  • Hercules Offshore
  • Honeywell
  • Intel
  • Jack in the Box
  • JB Hunt Transport Services
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Kansas City Southern
  • L Brands
  • MedAssets
  • MercadoLibre (Argentina)
  • Monro Muffler Brake
  • NextEra Energy
  • Novo Nordisk (Denmark)
  • NRG Yield
  • NXP Semiconductor (Netherlands)
  • Ocwen Financial Corporation
  • Omnicom Group
  • Pentair
  • Petrobras (Brazil)
  • Prudential (UK)
  • PVH Corporation
  • Quanta Services
  • Roche Holding (Switzerland)
  • Ryder System
  • Samsung (Korea)
  • Sealed Air
  • Sirona Dental Systems
  • Sprint
  • Starbucks
  • Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (Taiwan)
  • Telecom Argentina (Argentina)
  • Televisa (Mexico)
  • Tencent (China)
  • TIM Participacões (Brazil)
  • Time Warner
  • United Parcel Service
  • Visa
  • Werner Enterprises
  • WisdomTree Investments
  • Wright Medical Group

Good luck to them all (but extra good luck to our clients) !

Have a great day.

Video snippets: more help shopping the different styles of annual reports

Judging by feedback from last’s week’s post on “shopping” for an annual report, it’s a fair topic to continue discussing. Reading this post first will help in understanding the video descriptions. BTW, the video snippets are peacefully silent.

In the vocabulary of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” printed annual reports are not dead yet. They remain a viable element of the shareholder communications mosaic.

ABOVE

  • Cover: 4-color gloss coated cover stock
  • Pages: The inside pages are on the same paper stock as the 10-K. Very helpful financial summary on the first page, followed by shareholder letter, etc.
  • 10-K: Black ink on 24 lb white paper
  • This booklet is saddle stitched

ABOVE

  • Cover: 4-color gloss coated cover stock
  • Pages: 4-color, gloss text for the shareholder letter
  • 10-K: Black ink on 24 lb white paper
  • This booklet is perfect bound – assumedly due to the thickness of the 10-K

ABOVE

  • Cover: 4-color gloss coated cover stock with a financial summary printed on the inside cover
  • Pages: The inside pages are on the same paper stock as the 10-K, including the three page shareholder letter.
  • 10-K: Black ink on 24 lb white paper
  • This booklet saddle stitched– a great example of a pure “10-K Wrap”

ABOVE

  • Cover: 4-color gloss coated cover stock
  • Pages: There is no shareholder letter or “marketing” within this book
  • 10-K: Black ink on 24 lb white paper
  • This booklet perfect bound– giving the 10-k book a very finished look

As you can see, the style and scope of hardcopy annual reports is varied: there is no “best practice.” Budget, quantity and shareholder expectations should drive your process and production.

I’ll post more examples next week.

Are you getting close to “going to press?” Click here to be sent samples.

Have a great day.

The SEC just announced 255 reasons why microcap companies need an IR website

hammerThe SEC announced a major action today against 255 pump-and-dump companies.

From the SEC news release:

SEC Continues Microcap Fraud Crackdown, Proactively Suspends Trading in 255 Dormant Shell Companies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the latest actions in its microcap fraud-fighting initiative known as Operation Shell-Expel, suspending trading in 255 dormant shell companies ripe for abuse in the over-the-counter market. 

Since Operation Shell-Expel began in 2012, the SEC Enforcement Division’s Office of Market Intelligence has been cleaning up the microcap marketplace by scrutinizing penny stocks nationwide and identifying clearly inactive companies.  This has enabled the SEC to proactively suspend trading in several hundred dormant shell companies before fraudsters have an opportunity to manipulate them. 

Remarkably, the SEC published a handy alphabetical list of the names of all 255 companies.

Why these companies are 255 reasons to create an IR website:

OTC Markets is a viable, important market – not only for Emerging Growth Companies but for international corporations’ ADR listing, like Heineken N.V. (OTCQX: HEINY) that just listed on the OTC markets last week. (awesome!)

Unfortunately, the fraudulent pump-and-dump schemes can taint the entire microcap brethren. Ethical corporations, on ALL EXCHANGES, need to demonstrate their commitment to transparency – and an investor relations website is the easiest media to do that. In fact, only 27% of investors reported they would invest in a company that did not show its transparency via an IR website.  ( see report here )

Helping microcaps is a specialty for us… beginning with their S-1, right through into the shareholder communications. We actively turn away business from stock-promoters and rant against pumpers often here on this blog.

We invite microcap companies to speak with us about using transparency as differentiation.  We have special microcap solutions, realistically priced-tiered. Use this form.

Have a great day.

Six reasons why we sold a new IR website every 3.6 business days in 2013

While doing the math for last week’s post bragging about our ranking as the #3 SEC filer, I also came across the math that we sold a new IR website every 3.6 business days in 2013.

There were many factors for that:

1.) We’re an NYSE-approved IR website (and newswire) provider for NYSE issuers. We’re very thankful for the opportunity that brings, both IPOs and subsidiary-supported issuers.

2.) The end of Thomson as an IR website provider, prompting many investor relations departments to look harder at their decade+ old “status quo” relationship, poke around and switch.

Click to view our IR Room MST brochure

3.) Creative and custom design capabilities. (like above)

4.) Our “IR Room MST” package – read the blog post here and download the brochure here.

WP_logo_3a5.) A real-world, no-nonsense attitude towards social media… and a tangible IR roadmap. Download here.

6.) Ongoing insight on how investors use your IR website and other shareholder communications efforts. Download the current report here.

Oh. There is a seventh reason… price. We totally rebuilt our data infrastructure last year and that allowed us to sharpen our pencils. Here is our (video) view on IR and SEC spending.

Thank you for your continued business and have a great day. 

Reverse mergers: the Rodney Dangerfield of going public

The NYSE became a public company by a reverse merger with Archipelago Exchange. That forgotten fact came out yesterday in our webinar Reverse Mergers and Alternative Public Offerings.

Album_no_respectThis fact is very significant in context to the over-generalized “no respect” that reverse mergers carry. Admittedly, the flood of Chinese companies in 2011 (and their subsequent delistings) as well as deceitful shareholders who are anxious to “dump” their “shell” stock does nothing to boost confidence in reverse merger companies. Even the SEC sent an investor alert cautioning investors about reverse mergers, stating that they may be prone to fraud and other abuses.

But this over-generalization can be EASY foiled by investors doing what they should always do: diligence. It’s not the process… it’s the people.

How a reverse merger works:

  1. Existing Public Company A creates wholly-owned Subsidiary B
  2. Stockholders of acquiring Private Company C negotiate with the shareholders of Public Company A in to merge with Subsidiary B
  3. Private Company C merges into Subsidiary B, with the Public Company A surviving and shares issued to shareholders of Private Company C
  4. Private Company C becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Public Company A with the controlling stockholders of Private Company C usually owning 90% or more of the Public Company A and Public Company A ‘s shareholders owning the remainder
  5. Private Company C’s management team becomes the directors and officers of the public company

How a reverse merger works visually:

Currently public company...

rm1

creates a subsidiary.

rm2

Private company makes an offer to merge with 
the subsidiary....

rm3

Which it does...

rm4

 ...creating a new public company organization lead by 
the management team from the private company.

RM5

Ta-da! This entire process involves SEC filings Schedule 14f-1 (10 days prior to closing) and a “Super” Form 8-K (with full audited financials) due within 4 days of closing. Plus, since the issues that came clear from the Chinese companies’ “mis-steps,” both the NASDAQ and NYSE have put higher controls in place regarding reverse mergers.

Reverse mergers are a transparent and expedited path to becoming public. At no time should it be considered “quick & easy.”

Working with us DOES ease a lot of the burden, however :)

Enjoy the webinar HERE.

Have a great day.

Microcaps need to “Think Mega” to position and protect themselves in 2014

In case you have not noticed, the SEC has been very active toward ferreting out fraud ~ and have widely publicized their success. The three enforcement groups they announced this year have been a perfect storm, especially with the fraudulent activities surrounding corrupt microcap companies and their “advisors.”

think-mega

The three task forces:

  • The Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force dedicated to detecting fraudulent or improper financial reporting, whose work will enhance the Division’s ongoing enforcement efforts related to accounting and disclosure fraud.
  • The Microcap Fraud Task Force targeting abusive trading and fraudulent conduct in securities issued by microcap companies, especially those that do not regularly publicly report their financial results.
  • The Center for Risk and Quantitative Analytics employing quantitative data and analysis to profile high-risk behaviors and transactions and support initiatives to detect misconduct, increasing the Division’s ability to investigate and prevent conduct that harms investors.

The Microcap Task Force focuses on fraud in the issuance, marketing and trading of microcap securities – developing and implementing strategies that detect and fight microcap fraud, especially by focusing on advisors, such as attorneys, auditors, broker-dealers, and other significant participants – including investors. This task force uses the “big data” tools of the Center for Risk and Quantitative Analytics: assisting the Microcap Task Force via delivering analytical techniques and computing capacity with special expertise in big data mining.

The Financial Reporting Task Force will expand the Microcap Fraud Task Force’s ability to identify violations concerning the preparation of financial statements; issuer reporting and disclosures & audit failures.

How we help transparent microcaps:

  • You must “Think Mega” to separate your company from the pump-and-dump companies that poison the microcap well. Implement the exact same philosophies and shareholder communications practices of megacap issuers. Yes, that means spending some money on investor relations. Start with a true IR website – not just a couple links off to Yahoo, OTC markets or SEC.gov sites. Remember what we’ve learned (click here). Over half of investors will not take a position in a company that does not have an IR website. We have a specially priced IR website JUST for OTC listed companies.
  • Our fleXBRL program assures your company is getting high quality XBRL tagging and filing at a flexible price point that is in concert with a micro-cap’s budget and with how you work. Certainly, there are cheaper providers, but XBRL is very precise and the complexity of error is exponentially higher than straight-up EDGAR. Metaphorically, you need to consider XBRL as “computer code…” and one bad line can be your “glitch” that alerts the SEC’s perfect storm of task forces. You do NOT want that.

2014 is coming. Think Mega!    

Click here to learn about our investor relations websites. Click here to tell us your preferred XBRL reporting workflow.

Have a great day. 

Re-visiting Re-balancing for 2014 (video)

Why have Vintage Filings been successful this year? One reason is that when we talk with clients and prospects, we present a strategic cross-departmental perspective regarding our tactical products. We first introduced this POV last year and it continues to ring true – especially as many of our meeting are C-suite.

This quick video explains. Once it starts playing, be sure to click the HD button, upper right. Apologies in advance for “the spokesmodel.”

It is essential that you minimize your XBRL spend. Per the video, there is a lot of outbound opportunity trapped in there.

Safe travels to you and yours this holiday weekend.

Investor relations benchmark 1: Do you “tweet?”

This first question of this new infographic series came from a client discussion. The client was more than a little frustrated at the barrage and band wagoning surrounding social media and IR.

We spoke about the report NIRI issued in June, however more granularity was requested – specifically as the conversation initiated from our Twitter and StockTwits “how-to” whitepaper.

They wanted peer stats on the direct use of Twitter and StockTwits from within investor relations departments. Not the corporation’s use, not the brand’s, etc. Just the IR department organically.

If you complete the study’s math, under 8% of IR departments tweet themselves organically. The verbatim comments are very to-the-point.

IRB1_-Is-your-Investor-Relations-department-tweeting

Our view? Shareholder communications is a mosaic. Targeting your message and energies (aka marketing) is important. Twitter and (especially) StockTwits have a bazillion investors reading the streams ~ getting your news into those streams in a risk and burden-free manner would be good communications.

That’s the advice in our Twitter and StockTwits “how-to” whitepaper.

Have a great day.