Tag Archives: Board Communications

10 Tips for Dealing with Shareholder Activism

By Maureen WolffPresident and Partner, Sharon Merrill Associates

For many companies, a looming activist shareholder is no longer the exception – it’s the rule. One reason is that an increasing number of hedge funds are using activism as a standalone strategy. Assets managed by activist hedge funds increased 42% in 2013 to $93 billion from $65.5 billion in 2012, according to Hedge Fund Research, Inc.

The swirl of activism has the C-suite and the board concerned. In a poll of executives for its recent Capital Conference Barometer, Ernst & Young reported that nine of 10 executives acknowledged that issues raised by shareholders have influenced boardroom agendas, with cost reduction and operational efficiency identified as the most pressing concern over the next 12 months.

The threat of activist investors encircling your company can be intimidating – unless you understand how to engage, respond and communicate. Here are 10 strategies to help you prepare. Continue reading

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Getting Investors Ready For Your New CEO

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

CEO SuccessionWhen The Men’s Wearhouse dismissed George Zimmer, the company’s high-profile pitchman and executive chairman, this summer, observers were left wondering what had caused the split. The company announced it had parted ways with Zimmer, who founded The Men’s Wearhouse in 1973, on June 19, five hours before its annual stockholders meeting was scheduled to take place. It provided an extensive explanation from the board of directors via press release – six days later. In the interim, and for several days thereafter, fans of Zimmer and his iconic commercial appearances took to social media with cries of “foul.” Zimmer himself commented on his ouster through a number of media channels.

Zimmer’s split must have been particularly damaging from a communications and branding perspective. After all, it is difficult to even think of the men’s retailer without hearing Zimmer and his classic phrase, “You’re gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it.” But the travails of communicating succession aren’t limited to high-profile executives. In the past several weeks, we have seen changes or controversy at the top of a number of public companies, including J.C. Penney, Microsoft, Office Depot, Royal KPN and Vivendi.

Finding the next CEO or chairman is one issue. Communicating to investors that the board of directors has a sound plan for succession is quite another entirely. This means the challenge is two-fold: overcoming the stigma associated with internal succession discussions while a CEO – especially a successful one or a company founder – is still in place; and crafting a message that will ultimately calm investor fears about uncertainty caused by a pending transition. Continue reading

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Is the Annual Report a Thing of the Past?

By Maureen Wolff, President and Partner

Annual reports are so 1997.

When the National Investor Relations Institute recently asked me for my thoughts on the public company practice of producing a glossy annual report, the premise of the question was not, “How can companies do this better?” or “Please provide some helpful tips for designing annual reports.” It wasn’t even as minimalist as “What’s the least expensive, most simplified way to produce an annual report?” No, the question was much more fundamental: Why, in this age of technology and pressured IR department budgets, should companies bother to create an annual report at all? Continue reading

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Notes from a NIRI Annual Conference Attendee

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

Last week, I attended the NIRI Annual Conference.  It was very educational and an incredible opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with many of the approximately 1,300 investor relations professionals from more than 20 countries that attended the event in Seattle. 

NIRI organized more than 45 informative panel sessions and workshops that were led by some of IR’s top influencers. While I wanted to attend each one, unfortunately I am not omnipresent. For those that I did attend, I left with several key takeaways that can benefit any IR program and wanted to share those with you here at The Podium. Continue reading

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Filed under Board Communications, Board of Directors, Investor Presentation, Investor Relations, NIRI, Shareholder Activism, Shareholder Surveillance, Social Media

Investor Relations for the New CFO – Six Steps for IR Success

By David Calusdian, Executive Vice President & Partner

*Originally appeared on Samuel’s CFO Blog. Samuel Dergel is Director and Search Consultant at Stanton Chase International. Mr. Dergel specializes in Executive Search for Chief Financial Officers.

As the new CFO of a publicly held company, somewhere on your extensive “to do” list is implementing an effective investor relations program. Whether or not the IR function was a well-oiled machine when you arrived, or virtually non-existent, there are key areas you need to address immediately to ensure that you are effectively taking the IR reins. So here are six steps for success as you accept responsibility for the IR function. 

1)      Understand your shareholder base.  Research the investment styles of your shareholders to determine why they may have bought shares– and what might cause them to sell.  See what type of investor concentration you have in your shareholder base.  Identifying whether your shareholders are weighted toward a growth, value or income investment style, for example, can offer insight as to what they are expecting the company to achieve near or long term. Also investigate whether there are known “activist” firms among your shareholders, and what catalysts usually cause them to initiate a proxy fight.  Make it a priority to speak with your shareholders by phone as soon as possible, and then meet them in person within your first few quarters as CFO. Also consider an investor perception audit to understand the sentiments of your shareholder base — and identify any misperceptions about the company — to most effectively build your IR program.  Continue reading

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What’s In/What’s Out for Investor Relations in 2012

By Jim Buckley

To kick off the New Year, we decided to renew an old Sharon Merrill tradition and take a lighthearted look at what’s in and what’s out in investor relations and related areas in 2012.  Hope you enjoy, and have a happy and successful 2012. Continue reading

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Is Your Investor Relations Plan Fit? Consider These 5 Steps.

By Dennis Walsh, Senior Consultant & Director of Social Media

As another year comes to a close, two things are probably on every IRO’s mind: New Year’s resolutions and next year’s investor relations plan.  Every year, one of the most common resolutions is to get fit.  People spend a tremendous amount of time and money developing new health and fitness plans to achieve that goal.  This year, apply the same techniques to your IR plan in order to have a successful 2012. 

Establish Achievable Goals

You may not be ready to compete in the Arnold Classic body building competition next year, but fitting into that new bathing suit by summer is certainly a realistic goal.  When developing your 2012 IR plan, set equally realistic expectations.  For example, expecting to grow your capitalization from a mid-cap to a large-cap in just a few months is likely an unrealistic benchmark.  Instead, focus on more achievable metrics, such as meeting with a greater number of investors, attending more conferences, or increasing trading volume.  Meeting these goals will support your ultimate goal of maximizing shareholder value. Continue reading

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