The Global IR Forum was a virtual event this year. Like everything else in 2020 it was all about coming together – without going outside. The three-day event took place last week, with 30 sessions bringing together more than 350 attendees from 39 countries.
The new online format allowed for not just the usual discussions on how corporate access has changed, what has been happening on the buy side or what new trends IROs have been tackling, but also nine sector-specific sessions, giving attendees access to the most relevant discussions for their market.
Day two saw Mark Kinarney, senior director of investor relations at Lantheus Medical Imaging, join Michael Becker, executive vice president of strategic partnerships and initiatives at Business Wire, and Clare-Marie Hill, corporate access associate at Fidelity Investments, for a panel moderated by IR Magazine editor Ben Ashwell to answer the question: what’s the best way to engage new investors these days?
Kinarney spent time in equity research at Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS and in sell-side corporate access at Credit Suisse before moving into investor relations. His IR career has so far involved working at Gilead Sciences – a company with an $80.8 bn market cap at time of writing – before moving to small-cap Lantheus Medical Imaging.
‘At Gilead we had 27-28 analysts covering us so there was just a tremendous number of requests,’ he said. ‘Think of any type of corporate access activity and it was pitched. [As a result], there were a lot more nos than yeses,’ he said.
At Lantheus, which doesn’t have the luxury of having to say no so often, Kinarney described the company as having ‘a lot more of a self-starter mentality’.
He explained that whereas Gilead would not attend a conference unless the bank covered the company, ‘at Lantheus there’s a lot more reaching out and trying to get those invitations to conferences, because those are really important opportunities during the quarter, they’re public forums, they’re webcast on our website. If we wanted to say something during the quarter, that’s an avenue to do that.’
Kinarney explained that for him, it was important to go beyond the healthcare conferences and also attend ‘general conferences, some small and mid-cap conferences, some growth conferences’ – something he said was an exercise in leveraging his sell-side relationships. At a smaller company with fewer covering analysts, ‘you have to be a little bit more entrepreneurial and a little bit more of a self-starter,’ he added. ‘You have to have a little bit more of a hustler mentality.’
A broad audience
It’s all about widening the company’s exposure, explained Kinarney. At Gilead, he said the IR team could be more strategic in planning the meeting schedule for a roadshow, looking for a mix of existing investors and new investors. ‘You want the quality, long-only investors to have their one-on-ones and you want to push all the hedge funds into a group meeting.
‘I tried to do the same thing at Lantheus but really, I want to expose our company and our story to as broad an audience as possible. So I don’t turn down meetings unless there’s a really good reason.’
Instead he runs the proposed schedule (which he gets from the sell side) by Nasdaq for profiles and account background. Those are then used to prep with management: to discuss which investors the firm is seeing, when it met with them last and what sort of questions they asked in the past.
‘Unless there’s a red flag, I tend to accept all those meeting requests,’ Kinarney said.
While there’s a somewhat surprising consensus that the new virtual setup for meetings is working well as far as engagement with existing investors goes, Ashwell asked Kinarney how Lantheus has been dealing with new relationships.
‘When we go to conferences for our covering analysts, that’s where we tend to talk to a lot of the people who own our stock,’ Kinarney replied. ‘But when I go to a Raymond James growth conference, or a conference for a bank that doesn’t cover us, that’s where I tend to see investors and firms whose names I don’t necessarily recognize and I have to do a bit more digging on exactly who they are.
‘So I get one of these database lists of, not just healthcare, but all types of events and I will proactively reach out to people and try to get an invitation if I think it’s a good event, because I think we’ll have a better opportunity of being introduced to a wider audience.’
Peeling back the onion
Taking a question from the audience, Kinarney discussed the practicalities of these meetings in terms of bringing in senior management or going IR-only.
‘I am blessed with a CEO and a CFO who, in my two years in this job, have never said the word ‘no’ to me, which I’m sure is very rare,’ he said. ‘Any meeting I have brought to them, they have said ‘yes’ to – every single time. And I’m happy about that.’
He added, however, that he tries to do first meetings as IR-only. ‘Time is so tight [and] I kind of cringe when I’m in a meeting with my CEO and someone asks a basic question that really should have been directed to me,’ he explained. ‘I really try to do those first meetings myself so that when I do get to the CEO and the CFO, there’s that next level of peeling back the onion, and it just gets them closer to the investment decision.’
And has Covid-19 had an impact on how many meetings it takes to get an investor over that finish line? Lantheus completed its acquisition of artificial intelligence oncology firm Progenics Pharmaceuticals in June, and Kinarney said heightened exposure has also had an impact on meeting numbers. ‘We’re going to more conferences, we’re getting more meeting requests, our conference schedules are full,’ he said. ‘And I’m getting a lot of one-off requests in my in-box.’
But when it comes to what’s needed before an investor makes a buy, Kinarney said it’s just too hard to generalize. ‘When I was in corporate access, there were some regional trends and the thinking was that for a European buy-side account to pull the trigger, it needed a lot more meetings, it needed to have that in person-meeting with the CEO – or multiple in person-meetings with the CEO. [But] I’ve had someone new come into the stock at Lantheus after a few meetings with me and a call with the CFO, so it’s really tough to generalize.’
You can listen back to all the sessions from the three-day virtual Global IR Forum, covering nine sector-specific sessions as well as regional focuses, and listen to panelists discuss ESG trends, IR budgets, the changing nature of corporate access in a post-Covid-19 world – and much more.