Client-centric IR: Why Stoneridge won an IR Magazine award
When Matt Horvath, director of IR and M&A at Stoneridge, joined the company in November 2016, he quickly realized that the story it wanted to tell was not the story the Street was hearing.
An early perception study revealed that as a designer and manufacturer of electrical components for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, the company was too often grouped together with the broader automotive industry.
‘I wanted to make sure that people really understood the basics of the business,’ Horvath tells IR Magazine. ‘We started laying out a communication strategy to help people understand the basics of each segment and how each segment contributes to the overall growth strategy for the company. Then every quarter we’ve built on that, adding a new layer of complexity like building blocks.’
Horvath, along with Matt Davis, a senior analyst on the Corporate Development and IR team, revamped the company’s earnings materials and investor presentations, adding clearer graphics and explaining how macro-economic trends may or may not apply to the company – often emphasizing how the business is influenced by technology trends as much as automotive trends.
‘I listened to calls throughout the industry and reviewed what I deemed to be best-in-class materials to be sure that we were reporting numbers and using terminology in a way that people familiar with the industry could understand,’ Horvath explains.
Stoneridge has since celebrated a few milestones: closing on a 20-year high stock price, making two acquisitions and winning an IR Magazine award. Eight of the ten members of the executive team have also changed or changed roles over the last two years, giving the company a fresh feeling.
‘I’ll be the first one to say that I’m telling the story, not driving the results,’ Horvath says. ‘Our leadership team is driving a strategy that is much more linear for the organization resulting in consistent, strong financial performance and that’s a much easier story for me to tell.’
This is Horvath’s first corporate role, having worked as an M&A consultant previously. He says that background helped him with operational skills like developing communication materials, but also with the sense of storytelling needed for IR. ‘I think of the investors as my clients,’ he says.
He’s also benefited from the mentorship of Stoneridge’s chief financial officer, Robert Krakowiak, whose last job was vice president, treasurer and head of IR at Visteon. This relationship has helped Horvath get up to speed on areas of IR that he hadn’t previously been exposed to, such as planning shareholder meetings, roadshows and contributing to the proxy statement.
Horvath’s priority for next year is to take a fresh look at Stoneridge’s website and ‘to help the business communicate continued strong performance in addition to continuing to evaluate organic and inorganic opportunities’, he says. ‘Now that people understand the business, we can start talking about some of the really exciting things we’re doing.’