As sure as a summer tan fading, fall ushers in the season of investor conferences and non-deal marketing roadshows. Nailing down dates for the C-suite to meet shareholders and potential investors is a strategic exercise. Studies have estimated the all-in cost of a CEO or CFO on the road for a day of meetings at more than $10,000. So how can public company executives earn the highest possible return on that investment?
1. Prioritize your targets. Start by setting your investor relations objectives. Is your company looking primarily to retain its existing shareholder base or to broaden ownership? A combination of the two?
Review public filings and perhaps conduct a shareholder identification program to understand which fund managers own your stock and put their home office cities on your roadshow list. If looking to broaden ownership, many questions must be answered. What kind of investors should you target? Which investment style best suits your company’s performance—growth, GARP, value? Are the shareholders in your peer group also good potential investors in your company?
Validate your target list by reaching out to fund managers and analysts, to introduce your company, gauge interest and lay the groundwork for a meeting. Once you have categorized your top investor targets, you can set your itinerary.
2. Allocate your days. The right number of days for a CEO or CFO to spend on the road varies by company. In setting the plan, consider how other senior executives and business unit leaders can participate in investor marketing. Not only does this shared approach relieve the CEO’s and CFO’s schedules, it brings valuable perspectives to the investment community.
If your company has sell-side coverage and will be hosted by a broker on the road, be sure to allocate cities to analysts according to where they have the strongest sales support.
3. Drive the agenda. When a company is fortunate to have broad sell-side coverage, the calendar quickly fills with broker-sponsored conferences. Each conference day then gets booked with meetings, driven by investor demand. Presenting companies are expected to fulfill the requests, within reason, but be proactive as well. Ask for the conference attendee list and cross-reference against your top target list. Reach out directly or ask the one-on-one desk to offer a meeting slot. Check that those investors who have expressed previous interest in meeting are aware of the conference.
If brokers are hosting your investor roadshow, don’t let the one-on-one slots be driven solely by the sales desks’ relationships; they may not have all the buy-side relationships that a company has built over time. Don’t cede control of your roadshow schedule—manage it account by account to make every meeting matter.
4. Stick to the story. Before hitting the road, fine-tune your story. What do you want investors to take away from the meeting? What should the market better understand about your business? Review your investor presentation and make sure that the messages are reflected clearly up front. On the road, use the time between meetings to debrief on what messages resonated and any new questions that were posed.
Remember that the roadshow is a perfect opportunity for an accompanying sell-side analyst to hear your story. Staying on message often results in a research note that clearly highlights your company’s investment thesis.
5. Stay energized! My own personal tip for the road: bring snacks and stay hydrated. Investors pay attention to energy levels, so keep them high. One CEO I know downs packets of gel like he’s running a marathon, but granola bars do just fine. And nothing beats a midday break at the best local coffee shop, except for that well-earned cocktail at the day’s end.
Chaya Cooperberg is chief communications officer and senior vice-president, corporate affairs, at AmTrust Financial Services. E-mail: Chaya.firstname.lastname@example.org.