Number of virtual investor day announcements increases in August
The number of companies announcing investor or analyst days has increased to its highest level since March, following a significant drop-off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There were 30 announcements of investor or analyst days in August, up from 19 in July, according to a search of Sentieo’s database. While there is normally a lull in July and the August figures are lower than the same time last year – when 42 investor or analyst days were announced – the slight month-on-month increase could be an indication that management teams are acknowledging the need to commit to more IR programming.
The number of investor or analyst days dropped off sharply after the Covid-19 lockdown: 42 companies announced events in March, but many were postponed or cancelled. The immediate priorities for many companies were to honor commitments to take part in virtual banking conferences and to quickly transition to a virtual annual meeting.
Tim Daubenspeck, partner at the Brunswick Group, says he expects to see an increase in the number of virtual investor and analyst days this coming quarter. ‘We’ve seen a lot of companies delay analyst days and now we’re working with them to plan them,’ he says. ‘Everybody would rather be there in person, but that’s not possible and you can only delay for so long. If you have an impactful announcement or strategic changes, eventually you have to move ahead.’
Daubenspeck adds that he’s been advising clients to keep their events concise and tight, noting that the average duration of these events is two hours. While there’s greater comfort with virtual presentations than there was in March and April, there’s not much appetite for experimentation or creative uses of virtual events. ‘A lot of people are just doing what they have to do to keep engagement up,’ Daubenspeck explains.
For IR teams, these virtual events pose a set of challenges different from a conventional investor or analyst day. Of course, IR professionals don’t currently have to think about catering, seating plans, AV and any number of other logistics associated with in-person events. Instead, questions relate to the reliability of webcasting providers, the quality of video and audio streams and managing the Q&A section.
If a company is planning an investor or analyst day, Daubenspeck says the level of preparation with management should be the same as it would be for an in-person event – which sounds simple, but could be an issue for companies that have participated in a number of virtual events.
‘If you know that you have to fly to New York to host one of these events, you’re going to be disciplined about the preparation,’ Daubenspeck says. ‘Because some of these meetings are turning into shorter virtual events, there’s a risk there won’t be the same commitment to preparation. We spend all day on video calls and I’ve had the sense that management teams may not be giving some events the same level of commitment and preparation they ordinarily would. That’s a mistake.’
‘Communication is more important than ever’
On August 6 Moog hosted its first virtual investor day. A live video stream was available to institutional investors and analysts who preregistered, and an audio stream was available for a broader audience.
Moog does not regularly hold investor days, but had planned to hold one in 2020 prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Ann Marie Luhr, Moog’s investor relations manager. She tells IR Magazine that after suspending guidance on its earnings call in April, the management felt the need to revisit plans to hold an investor day.
‘In uncertain times, communication is more important than ever,’ Luhr says. ‘It was not a numbers-heavy day, but it introduced members of the senior management team and helped investors understand what they’re working on.’
Six members of the company’s management team participated, while Luhr was behind the scenes working alongside a producer from the virtual events provider and a couple of colleagues who were providing technical support.
The participants decided to broadcast the event from Moog’s headquarters in Buffalo, New York. The US-based team gathered in the company’s largest conference room, so that appropriate social distancing could be observed, while one member of the management team joined the meeting from Ireland.
Luhr explains that there were two podiums set up in the meeting room and each member of the management team was assigned a podium to deliver remarks from – another step to manage social distancing. There were two cameras in Buffalo, one aimed at each podium, and another in Ireland.
The team gathered two days before the event for a dress rehearsal where lighting, audio levels and camera angles were tested, and the management team was able to get comfortable with the set-up. On the day, Luhr says she felt more like a broadcast TV producer than an IR professional. She moderated the audience Q&A, which lasted for about 40 minutes, drawing on her experience of doing so for the company’s annual meetings.
Since the event, Luhr says the feedback has been positive. ‘I had a few people email me to say they were amazed it was done live and in an impressive way,’ she says. ‘They loved having an opportunity to see who was running the business.’
A video recording of the event is currently available on Moog’s website. It will be removed 60 days after the event.