Category Archives: IR Fundamentals

9 questions answered about holding your first earnings conference call

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Our next event is “How To Build Your IR Website” on July 14. Click here for details and pre-registration.

For an investor relations officer, it seems that the other 361 days in a year pale in comparison to “earnings call day.” Talk about pressure. 

To help mitigate that quarterly stress, part three of our ongoing six-part webinar / podcast series addresses holding your first earnings call… although the discussion is pertinent reminder for ANY company from new IPO to seasoned mega-cap.

Please CLICK HERE to listen to all ARCHIVE podcasts in the series.   

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Q: Is it necessary for a newly public small cap or micro-cap company to hold a conference call the first time it reports quarterly earnings? How do you know when the company is ready?

It is important to remember that neither the earnings release nor a conference call is a requirement for a public company. The mandated release of quarterly earnings can be satisfied solely through the filing of the 10-Q or 10-K with the SEC. But in reality, it is a best practice for public companies to issue an earnings release and hold a quarterly conference call with analysts and investors. According to NIRI’s July 2014 Earnings Call Practices Survey, 97 percent of respondents hold a quarterly earnings call. Almost all of the calls are webcast live, and 73% of companies said they provide an archived audio file of the webcast on their IR website.

One of the main reasons that companies hold quarterly calls is for efficiency, especially when you’re talking about a large cap company that has many sell-side analysts following the company and a large number of institutional investors. A conference call and webcast gives the company the opportunity to explain its results to the broadest possible audience while also communicating and reinforcing the company’s strategic messaging. The call also gives management the chance to answer questions in a public forum, although questions typically are asked just by sell-side analysts and the largest investors.

For a small cap company and especially for a micro-cap company, the efficiency reason may not be as pertinent. The time and effort to prepare for a conference call can be enormous, so every newly-public company should consider whether the return on investment is worth it. If the company only has one or two sell-side analysts and a small institutional investor following, it may make sense to wait a few quarters. If you have an active IR program, where you are going out on the road, attending investor conferences, and holding teleconference calls with targeted investors , you should be building a nice distribution list of people who care about the company and want to be updated on progress.

The quarterly conference call is a checkpoint they can count on where investors can listen to your “between the lines” update, that is hear you talk about qualitative business factors that aren’t going to be in the 10Q/10K or release necessarily AND they know they can ask you a question in the Q&A session-which is maybe even the most important part of the call if you have built up an audience at all. Because once you start having quarterly conference calls, you shouldn’t stop having them — that would send a very bad signal to investors. It’s been proven over and over again that Wall Street likes consistency and hates surprises, Make sure you are ready to put your best foot forward before committing to your first – which is likely to be the first of many quarterly conference calls.

For newly public companies, I should also point out that the transcript of the conference call… which is provided by the vendor who will be operating the call… is an important marketing piece for the company-it’s a document that survives long after the conference call is over. When investors are doing their due diligence, one of the things they request from the IRO most often, besides the investor PowerPoint and the filings, and the last few earnings releases, is this transcript-with both management’s prepared remarks and Q&A.

Q: What is the role of the IRO or the IR consultant in preparing for the company’s first earnings call?

The IR professional manages the process of preparing for the call in the same way that he or she manages the process for the earnings release. The earnings call process requires significant preparation to set up the logistics of the call, preparing the script and Q&A document for the call and most importantly working with management in rehearsing and prepping for the call. If management wishes to use slides to accompany the audio stream over the internet, the IR team will also be responsible for putting that PowerPoint document together and making sure it is in proper form and given to the vendor on time.

Q: Who should be part of the team in preparing for the earnings call?

It is common practice to convene a multi-disciplinary group to discuss the high-level messages for the quarterly earnings release, and this should carry over to the preparation for the call. Participants often include the CEO and CFO, legal, financial reporting, corporate planning and budgeting, treasury, and media relations/corporate communications. 

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email_bkBernie Kilkelly is a senior investor relations practitioner with over 25 years of experience in designing and running successful IR programs to help companies build shareholder value. His background includes serving as head of investor relations for three public companies in the financial services sector, including Delphi Financial Group, Inc. from 2001 until its acquisition in 2012 by Tokio Marine Group at a 76% premium to its stock price. In addition to serving as a corporate investor relations officer, Mr. Kilkelly has worked at leading investor relations and financial/public relations agencies in New York, including Morgen-Walke Associates, Makovsky & Co. and Robinson Lerer & Montgomery. Mr. Kilkelly is a recognized leader in the investor relations community and has served as a director of the New York Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) since 2007. He was NIRI-NY Chapter President in 2012 and is currently serving as Vice President-Communications, responsible for the chapter’s website, newsletter and social media.

Connect with Bernie in LinkedIn here.

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Q: What documents need to be prepared for the conference call?

The IR professional is typically responsible for drafting three main documents:

  1. A slide deck
  2. Prepared remarks that are referred to as the “script”
  3. The Q&A document to help prepare for the Q&A period of the call

The slide deck is optional but can be helpful in providing a structure for the prepared remarks. One of the biggest complaints from analysts and investors about conference calls is that the prepared remarks go on for too long, and often include a boring recitation of numbers that have already been included in the earnings release. By using a slide deck, companies can try to keep the numbers discussion shorter and leave more time for high level discussion of strategy and progress toward previously disclosed goals. The prepared remarks are usually divided between the CEO and CFO, with the CEO providing overview comments and the CFO getting into more detailed discussion of the financial results.

The IR professional should ensure that the company’s financial and legal team has time to review the prepared remarks and slide deck to ensure accuracy and compliance with regulatory requirements. What you want to AVOID doing in the prepared remarks is to read directly from the MD&A-there is no reason to spend time on this during the call -the 10Q/K is already out there, and people will read it if they want to on their own. Give them the operating and financial highlights, drivers, trends, and market stats and data updates.

Q: What is the best way to prepare management for the Q&A portion of the call?

To prepare management for the Q&A portion of the call, many IR professionals research “hot” topics and develop a document that outlines answers to potential questions. This Q&A document often is maintained by the IR professional throughout the quarter. It is also helpful to review questions asked on peer company earnings calls, since many analysts or investors will ask the same question of each management team. The Q&A document should also be used to facilitate a practice session, to better prepare the CEO and CFO for that portion of the call. This practice session also encourages feedback from the senior leadership team, helping to refine responses and ensuring accuracy.

Q: What are the most important logistical steps in preparing for the earnings conference call?

Managing the logistics is equally important to the success of the earnings call. Nothing will derail a good earnings call faster than a phone line that goes dead in the middle of management remarks. Make sure you have a detailed checklist so that nothing is overlooked.

The following is a sample list of logistical tasks that should be performed prior to each earnings call:

  • Reserve internal meeting rooms for earnings calls and preparation meetings
  • Reserve audio/visual equipment, as necessary (microphones, sound system, speaker phone, etc.)
  • Arrange earnings conference call with applicable provider, obtain telephone numbers and access codes to provide to those who are authorized to ask questions and those who are not (typically the news media), ensure services include a full transcript and a digital recording of the call, and ensure that service providers do not disclose the date of the company’s call before it is publicly announced
  • Announce the details of the call to investors well in advance, notifying them of the date and time, dial-in and webcast information, and other details for the call; this process includes coordination with third-party data providers, which publicize earnings dates
  • Send the press release to the company’s wire service provider and review the proof
  • Ensure the Form 8-K and the press release are ready for SEC filing
  • Work with the website team (could be internal or a third party) to:set up a webcast link
  • Ensure posting of documents on website, including the press release, the earnings slides, and any other supplemental information typically posted
  • Set up podcast or audio archive of conference call
  • If applicable, touch base with the company’s social media team to determine appropriate content and timing for social media postings

Also, while it is usually performed live, as most C-level executives are not uncomfortable reading off a script, if there is an issue with speaking live, be that psychological or logistical, the prepared remarks can be pre-recorded, and there will be no discernible difference in sound quality. (Obviously Q&A is “live-only.”)

Q : What is the best time to hold your earnings conference call? Is it best to hold the call a few hours after the release of earnings or is it okay to release after the market and have the call the next morning?

There are pros and cons to both approaches, and it can depend on the company’s geographic location and time zone, and also on whether other peer companies are having calls on the same day. The pros of releasing after the market and having the call the next morning is that it allows you to get some market reaction, especially from sell-side analysts, which will help management prepare for the call. For a small cap company which does not have a large sell-side following this can be a good way to go. For companies with a larger following it is usually preferred to have the call soon after the release of earnings.

I would also point out that a release after market (say 4:01pm) and call at 4:30pm ensures that there is no trading before management has had a chance to comment on the numbers and “control the messaging.” I would also say that you maximize participation outside of market hours, and that international shareholders should be considered if they are a significant part of the shareholder base.

Q: Should you screen the callers for the Q&A portion of the call and is it okay to not let certain analysts or investors ask questions?  

Yes, I recommend that callers be screened because there have been numerous widely publicized incidents of people who have come on calls and asked inappropriate questions. I do not recommend blacklisting anyone from the call unless there is a history of them being abusive. It is also important to limit each questioner to two or at the most three questions each, and if they try to ask more then to ask them to let others have a chance and to get back in the queue.  To give some practical data, in the 12 years in which I’ve hosted quarterly conference calls, for over 50 public companies, and that’s over 200 calls, I have barred three people from Q&A, and cut off another three. We bar people who have gotten through and asked “bad” questions in prior calls, have made trouble on message boards or other forums, or are just people that management knows and prefers to speak privately with, rather than publicly.

Basically, it’s much more common that we have a great and productive Q&A session than we have one in which management is put on the spot by a disgruntled shareholder or where we have to step in and get involved or limit someone. We always try to encourage Q&A and maintain great karma between management and anyone who owns shares and/or has committed time to learning about the company and considering an investment.

Since the Q&A is really a great way to put information out in the marketplace, with the conference call being a public disclosure that is FD-compliant when you 8k it, if there is any information that you really want to make sure gets out there, and you want to make sure you have at least one or two questions in the Q&A section of the call, it is Ok to ask “friendly shareholders” to step forward and ask questions in advance. The herd mentality definitely applies to conference calls. One good question can often beget others!

Q: How long should the call go? Should it be limited to one hour or should you let it go over if people are asking a lot of questions?

In general, earnings calls should have a one hour time limit, particularly if the company is reporting in the thick of earnings season where peer companies are also reporting. However, I think exceptions can be made based on whether the call is during market hours or not and how many analysts and shareholders are in the queue. The most important thing is to avoid situations where management is being put in a position of getting questions that would be better answered off line.

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6 questions answered regarding setting up your IR function (Post-IPO)

IMAGE_for-PR_darrow3As part of our ongoing six-part webinar / podcast series, we’re offering these “collateral questions” to review. To listen to the actual webinars – or download the podcast files – please CLICK HERE to learn from our subject matter expert Bernie Kilkelly. 

Q: What changes should you expect after going public? 

Going public is one of the crowning achievements for a company and since a tremendous amount of work goes into preparing for the IPO, including a demanding road show, it would be natural to think that you’ve reached the finish line and are ready to take a rest.  In reality, the IPO is just the start of the ultra-marathon that is the life of a public company, and it is critically important to plan ahead of time and prepare for the post-IPO period.  Ideally, the investor relations function should be staffed either with an internal investor relations officer or outsourced by working with a trusted IR firm.

There should be set policies and procedures in place to designate appropriate spokespeople for the company, with the internal IRO or a senior person from your external firm serving as the key spokesperson.  While the CEO and CFO should be available and accessible when needed, it is not advisable for them to serve as the primary point of contact for analysts and investors, since they have many other responsibilities and demands on their time.   

How should you prepare your entire company for the post-IPO period, especially with regards to disclosure requirements like Reg FD? 

It is critical to have a disclosure policy in place before the IPO and this policy should be updated after the IPO to reflect the new requirements that the company faces.  In particular, the policy should spell out in detail the executives who are permitted to speak to analysts, investors and the media, and the procedures that other executives should follow if they are contacted by an analyst, investor or the media.  The designated spokespeople should of course have a full understanding of Reg FD and should be equipped with talking points and a list of potential questions and scripted answers to use when talking with or meeting with analysts and investors.  For media interviews, it is especially important to be aware of periods before and after the IPO where the company is prohibited from discussing the offering.

After the IPO, the company’s disclosure policy should include a quiet period to limit communications with analysts and investors during the time after the quarter closes and prior to the release of earnings.  This quiet period is critical to avoid inadvertent violations of Reg FD disclosure regulations.  According to a NIRI survey released in February, 85% of public companies have a quiet period before the release of earnings.  The company should also put in place a blackout period during which employees and directors are restricted from trading the company’s shares after the close of the quarter and through the release of earnings.  According to NIRI, 99% of companies have trading blackouts.

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email_bkBernie Kilkelly is a senior investor relations practitioner with over 25 years of experience in designing and running successful IR programs to help companies build shareholder value. His background includes serving as head of investor relations for three public companies in the financial services sector, including Delphi Financial Group, Inc. from 2001 until its acquisition in 2012 by Tokio Marine Group at a 76% premium to its stock price. In addition to serving as a corporate investor relations officer, Mr. Kilkelly has worked at leading investor relations and financial/public relations agencies in New York, including Morgen-Walke Associates, Makovsky & Co. and Robinson Lerer & Montgomery. Mr. Kilkelly is a recognized leader in the investor relations community and has served as a director of the New York Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) since 2007. He was NIRI-NY Chapter President in 2012 and is currently serving as Vice President-Communications, responsible for the chapter’s website, newsletter and social media.

Connect with Bernie in LinkedIn here.

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What should be the role of the CEO and CFO in the IR program after the IPO?

Senior management of the company, in particular the CEO and CFO, are the face of the company during its IPO road show.  This is always the case for a small cap company and even more so when the CEO is a founder of the company.  Once the IPO is completed, it is important for senior management to transition away from the day to day contact for analysts and investors, most importantly so they can focus on running the company.  The CEO and CFO should participate in investor conferences, non-deal roadshows and 1-on-1 meetings with key analysts and investors, but as much as possible the targeting and introductory conversations regarding the company should be handled by the designated IR point person.

What are the most critical elements of an IR program after the IPO? 

Once the IPO is done it is crucial for a newly public company to maintain strong relationships with your new shareholders and have an active program in place to target and attract new shareholders. The company will want to participate in appropriate investor conferences and do non-deal roadshows to get out and meet with current shareholders and investor prospects.  There is a 25 day quiet period after the completion of the IPO and while management may be eager to get out and meet with new shareholders and prospects, it is not necessary to do meetings immediately after the end of this period unless you have something interesting to talk about that wasn’t discussed on the IPO road show.

This will also enable the company to spend more time preparing for the important first quarterly earnings release and conference call after the IPO.  It is also crucial to have a robust investor relations website that is continually updated as new materials become available.

What are the pros and cons of having an internal IRO vs. outsourcing with an IR firm? 

The investor relations function is critical to making sure that the company understands what analysts and investors are thinking and to manage expectations around earnings and other metrics.  For many smaller companies, budget considerations make it more difficult to hire a senior executive to handle these responsibilities in-house.  [We are a little biased, of course, but] An attractive alternative is to outsource some or all of these activities by working with a trusted investor relations agency.  Agencies have established contacts in the institutional investor community and with retail investor channels that will help in your investor targeting efforts.  The agency will also have experience in helping companies prepare for investor conferences and putting together non-deal roadshows.

An outside agency will provide objectivity that is sometimes difficult for an internal staffer to have.  It will also enable you to have the expertise of a senior person for considerably less than the cost of a full-time senior IRO.

What should the newly public company look for in selecting an IR firm? 

One of the key factors in selecting an IR firm is to look at the amount of senior executive time that will be spent on your account.  A larger agency will often assign a team to your account that includes junior staffers, who may be bright and eager but are nevertheless lacking in experience.  It is critical when selecting an agency to find out who will be handling your account and how much access you will have to senior experienced staff.  Smaller boutique agencies are also able to provide deep expertise in targeted industries.

How investor relations websites have changed in eleven years: introduction

When I first published the Best Practices In Shareholder Communications (originally titled Trust & Transparency) in 2003, the investor relations industry was less than a year from the passing of Sarbanes-Oxley and under three years post RegFD. “Transparency,” once a shareholder communications ideology, had become law – and that made investor relations websites very important.

This was why the Best Practices guide was created and over 18,000 copies printed and distributed.

I pulled my coveted first edition off my shelf to see how investor relations websites have changed in eleven years. Overall, not that much has changed, regardless of the SEC’s 2008’s “web disclosure and eproxy” guidance and 2013’s “social media” guidance. Let’s go through this together over a few IR Room Fundamentals blog posts.

Firstly, in 2003, the web was not as mature as it is today:

  • Online stock information was not as ubiquitous as it is today – the WSJ still printed “stock prices”
  • Yahoo chat boards were the only heavily trafficked “social media” location
  • Broadband was a luxury, not du rigor
  • Cell phones were still quite dumb
  • There was no “social media”
  • It was five SEC Chairmen ago

What has not changed – nor will it ever – are the core financial tangibles that drive investors, both institutional and individual. That’s what investor relations websites first set out to deliver.

What has changed, much of it bypassing IR, is the realization of the power that content has online. It fuels the web. PR and marketing teams have excelled at this. Titled “content marketing” and “though-leadership,” it’s the very core of product and company differentiation via telling intangible corporate stories. Unfortunately, the risk of RegFD and the predatory nature of The Street is still a shackling element for many IR departments. The depth and amount of “stories” have not changed much in eleven years.

Regardless, the investor relations website plays an essential role in delivering intangibles, if not in exact content, but in tone and, of course, its demonstration of transparency.

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Investor Relations Home Page: 2003 best practices

Create a strong first impression for investors by offering easy access to up-to-date information. Enable visitors to obtain important information quickly so they can make intelligent investment decisions.

Investor relations website best practices

Make sure the design of the IR website is visually branded with the corporate site. Navigation and visual continuity should match the new look of the corporate site. Use a “vanity” URL for a seamless online brand experience

  • Make it easy for shareholders to find what they’re looking for. Organize information and website navigation in several categories relevant to investors.
  • Display current, automatically updated information such as stock quotes, recent press releases, upcoming events, contact information and downloads.
  • Include a brief mission statement or company profile, outlining your commitment to customers, partners, and investors.
  • For easy updating, use color and stylesheets for design elements, rather than graphics.

Investor Relations Home Page: 2014 best practices

Everything from 2003 remains appropriate for 2014.

NEW IR ROOM FUNDAMENTAL: Our “How Investors Consume Investor Relations Content” study reports that “Investor Presentations” are the most popular content on your IR site.

  • A new recommendation is to clearly showcase the most recent webcast / slide presentations directly on the IR homepage. Don’t make investors hunt for this coveted content.

We will follow-up with more 2003 – 2014 comparisons.

Request our complete investor study here. 

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Notice & Access (eProxy) on your IR website

The SEC’s Notice & Access for Delivering Shareholder Meeting Materials provides corporate issuers two options for distributing shareholder meeting materials to shareholders: online delivery or hardcopy mailings.

Investor relations website best practices

This rule provides issuers with the opportunity to use the web to reduce costs associated with the shareholder meeting process. When initially released in 2007, within the first couple years following, proxy voting had a dramatic drop in retail investor votes – mostly contributed to poor communications. Going into the fifth year, most all investors now understand the process.

Send out the “Notice”

Rather than automatically mailing all shareholders printed Annual Shareholder Meeting materials, a single, lighter weight “Notice” is mailed.

“Dear shareholder, we invite you to receive and review online our annual report, our proxy material as well as vote online or – just call us to continue receiving printed materials as you have in the past.”

This Notice of the Annual Meeting and availability of the Annual Report and Proxy Materials must be mailed at least 40 calendar days before the meeting date. The SEC has specific vocabulary for these Notices on the SEC website – the issuers inside council / shareholder services team should get this directly from the SEC website.

The Notice may provide each individual shareholder with their unique control number by which they can log on to the Notice & Access website containing the meeting materials, have access to vote and ability to request hardcopies. This password protected portal cannot employ any tracking cookies that identify shareholder. Shareholders are guaranteed complete anonymity.

From the SEC: 

An issuer must maintain the Internet Web site on which it posts its proxy materials in a manner that does not infringe on the anonymity of a person accessing that Web site. Under the rule, a company must refrain from installing cookies and other tracking features on the Web site on which the proxy materials are posted. However, the rule does not require the company to turn off the Web site’s connection log, which automatically tracks numerical IP addresses that connect to that Web site. Although in most cases, this IP address does not provide companies with sufficient information to identify the accessing shareholder, companies may not use these numbers to attempt to find out more information about persons accessing the Web site.

The Notice also must include a toll-free number for shareholders to call to request hardcopies if they elect not to view online. When a shareholder does make a “please mail me” hardcopy request, it must be fulfilled within three days of receipt of the request. A shareholder preference for electronic or hardcopy is applied to all future Proxy communications unless the shareholder specifically states that their preference is for that one Proxy (Annual Meeting) only. 

IR Fundamentals

The IR website can be used to mitigate any risk from shareholders not receiving and reviewing the correct proxy materials – whether online or hardcopy – and subsequently, the issuer not having auditable records of shareholder delivery preferences which could be essential in proxy voting disputes.

This risk stems from the unavoidable reality of, during the window of time surrounding the annual meeting and proxy solicitation, issuers can have TWO separate hardcopy “mail fulfillment” solutions and three separate “online documents” of their annual report (10-k) and their proxy.

During the proxy solicitation period, as well as year round if the issuer wishes – investor relations must make all efforts to direct Registered Shareholders and Beneficial Shareholders to the enrollment / proxy material / voting process “portals” and not to your IR Room’s “standard” mail fulfillment request page or online documents. 

Suggested actions

Issuers should engage their current provider of annual proxy materials to Registered and Beneficial Shareholders. These providers will have tightly monitored and auditable fulfillment “engines” tied directly to anonymous shareholder opt-in lists as well as the voting process.

To facilitate voting participation from the IR Room, issuers can create a distinct “Annual Report and Proxy” page.

Below is possible text. 

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Sign Up for Online Delivery of Annual Shareholder Materials 

Receive future distributions of our Annual Reports and Proxy Statements by electronic delivery, which offers the following benefits

  • Immediate availability
  • Integrated, anonymous online viewing and voting
  • Ability to opt-in or opt-out at any time
  • Better for the environment
  • Reduced expenses for the Company 

What type of shareholder are you? 

Please select Registered Shareholder or Beneficial Shareholder below. This will assure you are sent the correct shareholder materials and allow you to register for automatic delivery of future materials.

A.) You are a Registered Shareholder if you have your stock certificate in your possession. If you own shares in your own name – please click here: (insert that link)

B.) You are a Beneficial Shareholder if you maintain your position in the Company within a brokerage account. If you hold your shares through a broker or other third party – please click here: (insert that link)

If you are not a shareholder – you may view the documents here: (insert link to standard request document page)

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OUR SERVICES that relate to this topic: IR Room, XBRL with 10-K and proxy Edgar filing, comprehensive printing of hardcopy materials.

Have a great day.

When to file an 8-K: a brief refresher

Working with a newly listed company brought up a discussion of when/why to file an 8-K. Although sometimes what is “material” may seem grey, some corporate events are clear.  8-K filings are not an expensive file – better safe than sorry.

All your 8-K filings will be posted within your IR Room (investor relations website).

Investor relations website best practices

8-K trigger events include:

  • Entering into materially amending or terminating a material contract 
  • Material acquisitions or dispositions 
  • The disclosure of quarterly or annual financial results 
  • Material financing arrangements 
  • The acceleration of material financing obligations 
  • Material exit or disposal activities 
  • Delisting or noncompliance with a listing rule 
  • Unregistered sales of the company’s equity securities 
  • A change in accountants 
  • A determination that the company’s previously issued financial statements should no longer be relied upon 
  • Changes in the board of directors 
  • The appointment, retirement, resignation or termination of certain executive officers, or the entry into or amendment of a material compensatory arrangement with such officers
  • Charter and bylaw amendments 
  • Amendments to or waivers of the company’s code of ethics 
  • Voting results of shareholders’ meetings 

With some exceptions, reports on Form 8-K are generally required to be filed with or furnished to the SEC within four business days after the occurrence of the event to be disclosed.

An 8-K is also your first line of RegFD defence should a non-public material disclosure wardrobe malfunction (slip) happen. Regulation FD defines the outer boundary for “prompt disclosure” to mean as soon as reasonably practical, but within 24 hours or by the start of the next day’s trading on the NYSE, regardless of where or whether the company’s stock is traded.

RegFD slips are VERY rare. You guys are pretty much on the ball!

Have a great day.

IR Room Fundamentals: Investor relations websites need a vanity URL for better marketing

Part of the transition of older, former-Thomson IR websites to our IR Room MST platform includes the creation of a custom, vanity URL. What is a vanity URL? It’s a web address that is branded for marketing purposes and clearer communications.

Below are URLs to the IR website homepage of two NYSE companies. Simply, which is better for distribution and communications?

URLs

Why a vanity URL is an IR Room Fundamental:

Investor relations website best practices

  • Better communications within your press releases. You will drive investors directly onto your IR Room homepage rather than forcing people to first navigate through your corporate website or publish a gangly, unidentified and unbranded URL string.
  • Cleaner communications within email ~ especially within text-based email… as well as forwarded emails which often strips away embedded links and displays the long, non-branded URL.
  • Concise and exact link for your email signature.
  • More directive and memorable “closer” in PowerPoint presentations ~ “thank you for your time today. Please visit <Vanity URL> for more information.”
  • You can print it on your handouts at investor conferences and analysts can easily type it.
  • You can tell people verbally.

There have been discussions whether a vanity URL is better for “building trust.” It would be hard to qualify that statement other than it I doubt it would build “shareholder confidence” but it the context of phishing and fraud websites, it would intuitively build “browser-holder confidence.”

IR Room Fundamentals view a well-managed investor relations website to be balance of corporate transparency and brand marketing.

Want to learn more about investors’ online behavior? Download our Shareholder Confidence 365 study HERE.

Download our IR Room solution brochure HERE.

Have a great day.

IR Room Fundamentals: Are investor relations websites required by the SEC?

There is no SEC regulation that requires a public company to have an investor relations micro-site (IR website) however most all issuers have an IR website and savvy investors expect to find one. 2013’s Shareholder Confidence 365 study reports that only 27% of investors said they would invest in a company that does not have an IR website.

Investor relations website best practicesWhat is required:

Sarbanes-Oxley requires that issuers post Section 16 (forms 3, 3/A, 4, 4/A, 5, 5/A ~ insider trades) to their IR website or corporate website by the end of the next business day. Section 16 files must be sortable from other SEC files. Companies can link off to the SEC.gov website for this sub-set, however IR Room Fundamentals direct that this not done as it interrupts the investor’s experience.

Sarbanes-Oxley also requires specific corporate governance documents be accessible to investors on an issuers’ IR website or corporate website. IR Room Fundamentals direct a well-defined “corporate governance sub-section” for these disclosures: audit committee charter, compensation committee charter, code of conduct, code of ethics and the identification of the audit committee’s financial expert.

Regulation G of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act defines disclosure rules regarding GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and non-GAAP financials. The regulation specifies that companies reconcile the non-GAAP financial measure to the most directly comparable GAAP measure in SEC files, press releases as well as audio (webcast) recordings on your IR website. The disclosure must also include the reasons why the non-GAAP information is useful to investors.

The SEC’s Notice of the Annual Meeting and Availability of the Annual Report and Proxy Materials (Notice & Access) requires that issuers post proxy and supporting materials – letter to shareholders, annual report and annual shareholder meeting invitation – on their IR website or corporate website. Issuers cannot link off to the SEC.gov website and the proxy materials must be posted “in a manner that does not infringe on the anonymity of a person” – which means no personal-data based cookies. IR Room Fundamentals direct that the investor relations website clearly guides a shareowner to the appropriate proxy voting portal, depending on their status as a Registered Shareholder or Beneficial Shareholder.

And finally, all issuers must post their 10-K and 10-Q XBRL files and accompanying instance documents to their IR website or corporate website. Issuers cannot link off to the SEC.gov website for this.

IR Room Fundamentals view a well-managed investor relations website to be balance of corporate transparency and brand marketing. 

Want to learn more about investors’ online behavior? Download our Shareholder Confidence 365 study HERE.

Download our IR Room solution brochure HERE.

Have a great day.