Who won at the IR Magazine Awards in the US – and why

May 30, 2018
Highlights from the IR Magazine Awards – US 2018

On March 22 the US investor relations community braved the slushy aftermath of an unseasonable snowstorm – and widespread flight delays – to gather in recognition of the best and brightest in the profession. Danaher and Wright Medical Group took home three awards each, the former winning best overall investor relations (large cap), best corporate governance and best IR in the healthcare sector. The latter won best overall investor relations (midcap), best use of technology and social media, and best investor relations officer (small & mid-cap) for Julie Tracy, the company’s senior vice president and chief communications officer.

JPMorgan Chase & Co won best IR by a senior management team (large cap), recognizing the efforts of its CEO Jamie Dimon and CFO Marianne Lake, and best IR in the financials (including real estate) sector. Salesforce.com also netted two awards: senior vice president of investor relations John Cummings took home the best investor relations officer (large cap) award and the company won best in sector – technology.

William Galligan, who retired this year after more than 20 years in IR at Kansas City Southern, received the lifetime achievement award. He most recently served as the company’s vice president of investor relations. Blackbaud’s director of investor relations Mark Furlong won the rising star award, having proven to be an influential IR professional as well as an early recipient of the NIRI Investor Relations Charter credential.

The best overall investor relations awards were rounded out by World Wrestling Entertainment, which took home the small-cap gong.

Awards by research

Best overall investor relations (large cap): Danaher

What the investment community says: ‘Danaher always sends an email after each press release and earnings presentation with need-to-know key points. This is very useful for investors and analysts’ – sell side

Best overall investor relations (mid cap): Wright Medical Group

What the investment community says: ‘Wright’s IR is so proactive it calls us before earnings calls and then asks us for feedback. It is also very responsive and always willing to give us its time’ – sell side

Best overall investor relations (small cap): World Wrestling Entertainment

What the investment community says: ‘It’s a small company but WWE has a strong IR team. And CFO George Barrios is excellent’ – sell side

Best investor relations officer (large cap): John Cummings, Salesforce.com

What the investment community says: ‘Salesforce’s IRO, John Cummings, really knows his stuff. He is so well organized, as is the whole company. This runs down from the top and there is always a friendly face’ – sell side

Best investor relations officer (small & mid cap): Julie Tracy, Wright Medical Group

What the investment community says: ‘Wright Medical communicates well. The IR, led by Julie Tracy, is very accessible and refreshingly straightforward’ – sell side

Best IR by a senior management team (large cap): Jamie Dimon, CEO, & Marianne Lake, CFO, JPMorgan Chase & Co

What the investment community says: ‘Jamie Dimon has this ability to break down very complex things that are going on at JPMorgan in a human and straightforward way’ – buy side

Best IR by a senior management team (small & mid-cap): Leonard Comma, CEO, and Jerry Rebel, CFO, Jack in the Box

What the investment community says: ‘According to investor consensus, the CEO of Jack in the Box is the best’ – sell side

Best use of technology and social media for IR: Wright Medical Group

What the investment community says: ‘Wright Medical makes the biggest effort in its use of technology in communications’ – sell side

Best corporate governance: Danaher

What the investment community says: ‘The communications from Danaher about corporate governance are always clear and the strategy is fully explained’ – buy side

Most progress in IR: Citigroup

What the investment community says: ‘Although Citigroup had been providing good financial reporting and investor materials for several years, IRO Susan Kendall has made a huge difference to its IR: she convinced management to do the first investor day in many years’ – sell side

Best sustainability practice: Starbucks

What the investment community says: ‘Starbucks communicates efficiently on all IR matters but it’s especially good at explaining its sustainability strategy. The IR team is timely with responses and management is super-accessible’ – sell side

Best IR during a corporate transaction: Abbott – acquisition of St Jude Medical, January 2017

What the investment community says: ‘Abbott’s completed acquisition of St Jude Medical is perceived as strengthening Abbott’s future growth prospects’ – sell side

Best IR for an IPO: BlackLine

What the investment community says: ‘The CEO and founder, Therese Tucker, has the ability to explain the company really well. BlackLine makes accounting software, which could be considered pretty boring, but she makes it interesting and understandable’ – sell side

Best IR by a non-North American company in the US market: TechnipFMC

What the investment community says: ‘FMC used to be a US company and it still has its base in Houston, so I guess that makes it easier for it to do IR here. It certainly does it well’ – buy side

Awards by sector

Communications: T-Mobile US

What the investment community says: ‘T-Mobile is available, transparent and manages Street expectations very well’ – buy side

Consumer discretionary: McDonald’s

What the investment community says: ‘McDonald’s has all the IR resources and uses them to our advantage’ – sell side

Energy: ConocoPhillips

What the investment community says: ‘Consistent in its diligent communications with us and in meetings, it matters to ConocoPhillips that we understand the company’ – sell side

Financials (including real estate): JPMorgan Chase & Co

What the investment community says: ‘Most of the banks are pretty homogenous, but JPMorgan stands apart with its clean, clear and completely straightforward communications of its financial position’ – buy side

Healthcare: Danaher

What the investment community says: ‘A lot of effort goes into Danaher’s IR. On site visits it demonstrates operational strategies and shows examples of business systems. All of this is very interesting and helpful’ – buy side

Industrials: Fortive

What the investment community says: ‘Fortive has strong presentations and the IR team understands what investors want’ – buy side

Materials: International Paper

What the investment community says: ‘At International Paper there is good transparency and the IR team is proactive and very knowledgeable’ – sell side

Technology: Salesforce.com

What the investment community says: ‘The main IR guy at Salesforce and his team do everything really well. In fact, the whole organization runs well’ – sell side

Utilities: Sempra Energy

Awards by nomination

Lifetime achievement: William Galligan, Kansas City Southern

During William Galligan’s 20-plus years with Kansas City Southern, he has seen the company’s market cap grow, its analyst coverage increase and its business expand internationally. Now retired, Galligan dedicated his final years at the company to mentoring next-generation talent.

Rising star: Mark Furlong, Blackbaud

When Mark Furlong joined Blackbaud in 2014, he was the company’s first in-house IR professional. He called peers, mentors and contacts on the Street to put together a playbook for how IR at Blackbaud should evolve. Four years later, the company’s market cap has increased from less than $2 bn to $5 bn. Furlong was also part of the inaugural class of NIRI’s IRC credential.

Best crisis management: Banc of California

Banc of California endured a convergence of challenging situations, including an activist investor, a rogue blogger, the departure of the company’s CEO and CFO, and the replacement of five out of nine board members. A year later, the stock price had returned to the level it was at pre-crisis, thanks in part to the IR team’s frank communications with the Street.

Best investor meetings: Honeywell

Honeywell’s aerospace business had underperformed in 2016 and one activist was suggesting it should be spun off. Honeywell arranged an analyst day at its hangar in New Jersey, where it showcased its R&D efforts by taking investors for brief flights in the company’s aircraft to showcase the new onboard technology.

Best financial reporting: Zillow Group

Zillow’s IR people are innovators, and that shines through in the company’s financial reporting. Not afraid to experiment with new tools – from being the first company to source questions during an earnings call on Twitter to experimenting with a question-voting system where earnings call participants can select which questions they want management to answer – the IR team’s financial reporting stands out.

 

To find out more about the winners’ approach to IR, including a survey of their resources and objectives, subscribe to IR Magazine now to receive a copy of the Award-Winning IR – US 2018 report. Contact Reece Tan on +44 20 8004 5337 or email reece.tan@irmagazine.com.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of IR Magazine.

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