Heading Midwest

Dec 21, 2011
<p>Considering a Midwest roadshow? Don&rsquo;t miss these three cities, says <i>Jeff Cossette</i></p>

Day one

Fly in to Milwaukee the night before and start with a breakfast meeting at the Pfister Hotel. ‘The Pfister is where all the action is in terms of the investment community,’ says Seth Frank, vice president of investor relations at Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.

With almost $200 bn in equity assets under management, the city ranks as the 21st-largest investment center in the world and 11th-largest in the US.

According to research from Ipreo, seven of Milwaukee’s 10 largest investment companies are growth or aggressive growth-style firms, including Wells Capital Management, Artisan Partners and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

Midwest sector allocation

This growth orientation leads investors in Milwaukee to favor technology companies. The city’s investment teams have also been increasing their international exposure.  

At the end of your day, drive 90 minutes to Chicago. You can do a conference call on the way and your flight to Minneapolis tomorrow will be easier to book from there.

You’ll also be spending the night in Chicago, a city that certainly knows how to entertain visitors (see Eating out, below). Make sure you book dinner reservations for later; you’ll probably be in a traffic jam. Eat. Sleep.

Day two

Today you sell value. Led by value-oriented investors such as UBS Global Asset Management (Americas), Harris Associates and William Blair & Company, the Chicago metro area also boasts the country’s highest proportion of specialist real estate investment trust investors, according to Ipreo.

Don’t dismiss a car trip to the western suburbs: outside rush hour, they’re only 20 minutes away and feature smaller but long-term investors such as OakBrook Investments.

To further broaden your scope, give the 4,000-plus member CFA Society of Chicago a call. You can do a lunch meeting at the Standard Club slotted around your one-on-ones.

Steve Eschbach, Integrys Energy Group‘It can be worth a visit,’ notes Steve Eschbach, vice president of IR at Integrys Energy Group. ‘You’ll get your story out to lots of new players.’

‘Chicago investors tend to be conservative and have an affinity toward companies with a value orientation,’ adds Gregory Gocek, communications chairman for Chicago’s CFA Society.

‘Analysts have traditionally had expertise in manufacturing, agriculture, consumer goods and distribution companies. We don’t have the concentration of money management firms of New York or Boston, but Chicago is still an important financial center.’

Still, the fact remains that Chicago isn’t the big draw it once was, particularly for small and mid-cap companies.

Moreover, a good chunk of the half a trillion dollars worth of equity that local investors sit on is indexed – that’s why you went to Milwaukee and why you’re going to visit Minneapolis tomorrow. Eat well again. Sleep.

Day three

Fly to Minneapolis. Visit value-oriented Columbia Management, which, with more than $140 bn in equity assets, is by far the city’s largest investor.

The Minneapolis office is home to the firm’s contrarian team as well as mid-cap growth and value strategies. Local growth-oriented firms include Winslow Capital Management, Thrivent, Peregrine Capital Management, Next Century Growth Investors and Riverbridge Partners.

Strolling through downtown’s Nicollet Mall, stop to admire the statue of Mary Richards (the lead character from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) throwing her hat in the air, a symbol of independent career women everywhere.

If you haven’t had enough steak, eat at Manny’s. ‘You can find phenomenal investors of all kinds in all three cities,’ concludes Frank. ‘But there’s only one Manny’s. And it’s only in Minneapolis.’

Eating out

Visitors to the ‘nation’s breadbasket’ are at once struck by the extraordinary fusion of cattle, sports, celebrity and food. In Chicago, for example, fine versions of almost any ethnic cuisine are available. But it’s also where you’ll eat the world’s best steak.

Downtown, diehard steak fans can accompany their meal with non-Cuban cigars at Mike Ditka’s steakhouse in the Tremont Hotel. You’ll find Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse nearby on North Michigan.

Shula’s Steakhouse signature cut is 48 ounces of porterhouse. Diners also leave the restaurant knowing everything there is to know about the Miami Dolphins 1972 season.

If you like your wine list presented on an iPad, try the Chicago Cut Steakhouse on North LaSalle; basketball player Dennis Rodman recently enjoyed an evening there.

A more ‘old world Chicago’ selection can be found in Charlie Trotter’s: Trotter has written 14 cookbooks, has a ‘culinary philosophy’ and does catering.

Mexican food aficionados might like chef/restaurateur/cookbook author/television personality Rick Bayless’ adjacent eating places Frontera Grill and the fancier Topolobampo.

For a more value-based restaurant concept, ‘grunt burgers’ can be obtained at the Melman chain’s original and ever-groovy RJ Grunts on Lincoln Park West. Fish eaters in the neighborhood will find Ponzu Sushi, located nearby on North Clark Street, quite palatable.

Now look south. See that X-braced looming corporate lair? Wouldn’t everything be better if you could look down from atop it? The Signature Room at the 95th is there for that. You’ll return to earth having eaten as well as you deserved, and you’ll never forget the view.

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