The week in investor relations: Unusual metrics, disclosure guidance and elevated IR
– Unusual metrics such as restaurant bookings, airport traffic and direction requests in smartphones are being used by investors and analysts to try to get a sense of the economic recovery, reported the Wall Street Journal (paywall). ‘Restaurant reservations, which plunged in mid-March and April, have begun to recover nationally – although they remain below pre-pandemic levels,’ noted the article.
– The WSJ also noted that the gap between major US stock market indexes has grown to its largest size in more than 10 years due to the volatility caused by Covid-19. On Tuesday, the newspaper reported that the Nasdaq Composite had climbed 12 percent this year, compared with a nearly 9 percent drop for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
– Investors rejected a climate resolution that targeted Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group, reported Bloomberg. The sponsor of the resolution said this was the first time such a move had been made against a Japanese company. In voting before the AGM, around a third of investors supported the call for more disclosure on climate risks and alignment with the Paris goals. Two-thirds support was needed to pass.
– The SEC released updated disclosure guidance for listed companies, with a focus on capital resources, liquidity and operations. ‘We continue to encourage companies to provide disclosures that allow investors to evaluate the current and expected impact of Covid-19 through the eyes of management and to proactively revise and update disclosures as facts and circumstances change,’ the regulator said.
– The Covid-19 crisis has elevated the position of corporate affairs and IR roles within companies, according to a new report from Broome Yasar Partnership, Andrews Partnership and PLBsearch. The interviewees ‘talked of newly inherited seats on steering committees; of sudden, active roles in business continuity planning and strategic road-mapping; of even taking on the leadership of global crisis response committees,’ noted the report.
– German authorities arrested ex-Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, who resigned after the company admitted €2 bn ($2.2 bn) recorded in its accounts may not exist, reported Reuters. Braun was arrested ‘on suspicion of falsifying company revenue to make it appear stronger and more attractive for investors and customers,’ said Reuters, citing German prosecutors.
– Jeff Ubben left ValueAct Capital to set up a new investment firm focused on ESG, reported the Financial Times (paywall). The activist investor had already given up the roles of chief investment officer and CEO. In an interview, he questioned the value of activism in today’s market, saying: ‘Everybody’s maximized their margin. They’ve bought all their shares back... There’s nothing there. Every industry has about three players.’
– Retail investors poured money into a new gambling-themed ETF, noted the WSJ. The Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF has picked up more than $75 mn in assets in just three months, a target that normally takes three years, explained the article. Roundhill said it hadn’t invested in marketing the fund and thought social media discussions were driving interest.
And to recap, here are IR Magazine’s stories posted this week:
– Covid-19: The impact on guidance, buybacks and dividends in the S&P 1500
– More proposals reaching AGM votes this proxy season
– Opinion: Where are the minority voices in IR?
– Two thirds of investors open to working with activists
– Covid-19 impact unlikely to boost active investing, says CFA survey
– Investor relations leaders take on CFO roles
– North American investors still lag in focus on environmental and social issues