New guidelines for online investor presentationsby Dominic Jones
Investor presentations are vital sources of information for current and prospective investors and a key way for companies to tell their stories to The Street. Many hours and considerable expense is incurred by IR departments and company executives in preparing and delivering investor presentations.
Yet our research of how large-cap international and North American mid-cap companies currently provide access to their investor presentation materials online shows that many are missing valuable opportunities to expand the reach of their presentations and maximize the return on management's time and company expense.
The new guidelines show how IR departments can get more people to use their online presentation information by using new and existing web technologies to market their presentations and improve the usability of this important information.
A core resource for investors
Analysts and fund managers rate investor presentations as their most used IR website resource. Source: Thomson Reuters
Whether they are attended in person or online, investor presentations are core marketing tools for companies of all sizes. Surveys over the years have consistently shown that investors rate investor presentations as one of the top resources IR websites should offer.
This is particularly true when investors are researching potential new investments. Online presentations can tell a company's investment story succinctly and draw attention to high-value information that otherwise might not be prominent on a company's website.
A 2010 survey by Thomson Reuters among 50 European fund managers found that online presentations are the most used resource on company websites, the same result as two years earlier. These findings echo an earlier survey of 304 US and Canadian analysts and investors, which found that investor presentations ranked as the most important content on IR websites when investors are analyzing a potential new investment.
In these surveys with analysts and investors, presentations are often said to provide insight into a company's "spin," meaning that they help investors understand what management views as a company's investment merits
Improving access to all, especially in Europe
Publishing presentation information online through live webcasts can level the information access playing field between different types of investors.
This is one area where North American companies lead their global counterparts. Primarily due to Regulation FD, almost all North American companies provide live access to investor conference presentations.
However, many European and Asian companies do not provide live access to investor presentations and many also do not provide public access to earnings calls. In a recent paper, accounting professors at Goethe University in Frankfurt find evidence to suggest that material information is released during analyst conferences.
Say the researchers: "In the US, the SEC addressed the issue of selective disclosure and mandated open access to conference calls with the passage of the Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD) in the year 2000. In contrast, in the most important capital markets of Continental Europe such as Germany, France, Italy, and Spain as well as in the UK there is still no requirement for firms to grant open access to analyst conferences for all interested parties. Therefore, our paper contributes to a regulatory debate aimed at leveling the informational playing field among investors in Europe."
Leveraging new channels and technologies
In recent years, new opportunities have become available for companies to expand the reach of their investor presentations while also improving the usability of this information.
However, our surveys find that relatively few companies are currently taking advantage of these new channels and technologies. While some companies are using services such as SlideShare, the presentation sharing service, the guidelines highlight several powerful new channels and technologies that companies and their advisers are overlooking.
Whether they are well-known large-caps or smaller companies with little or no following, new technologies provide many opportunities for companies to improve the ROI of their investor presentations at little or no cost. This is particularly true when companies want to target investors outside of their home markets, such as international companies with U.S. ADRs or US companies wanting to target investors abroad.
Some companies are using services like SlideShare and Twitter, but they are overlooking many opportunities to improve usability and extend their reach.
All web-based communications have the benefit of being able to be tracked and measured. While most IR professionals today rely on qualitative measures such as feedback from investors to measure the effectiveness of their investor presentations, online presentations can supplement this with a variety of quantitative metrics, including the number of visitors to a presentation.
IR departments can use these web metrics to measure the effectiveness of different investor conferences as well as measure the level of interest in the company based on traffic to their online presentation materials.
The guidelines for Online Investor Presentations run to 48 pages and can be purchased online for immediate download.
Published by kind permission of the author.
Dominic Jones is the founder of IRWebReport.com and President of IR Web Reporting International Inc. He has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, investor education and online investor relations communications.
More at: http://irwebreport.com
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