When it comes to roadshow broker escorts, North American IROs are still searching for Mr Goodfeedback. Sure, they hear plenty of solicitous promises and it might even lead to an exciting whirlwind of encounters with strange and extraordinary people.
Yet all too often, afterwards, even as he’s waving goodbye to your taxi-load of executives, Mr Sell Side has forgotten you, dreaming instead of the next trip. Fortunately, IROs are coping with the heartbreak.
Not much delivered to FedEx
Despite a herd of 31 sell-side analysts clamoring for a job as tour guide, FedEx doesn’t get offered much post-roadshow feedback. ‘You get a little bit about what institutions liked or disliked and whether all their questions were answered,’ says Mickey Foster, vice president of IR at the logistics company. ‘That’s always good, but the ultimate feedback is whether they buy your stock.’
As Foster notes, however, that can often take a while. He gives an example of actionable broker feedback that can potentially sweeten the pot along the way: ‘One institution recently complained our dividend was lower than a competitor’s. If I hear that time and again I can pass that on to management. Eventually, we may listen.’
Foster recently visited Europe on a tour organised by a non-broker outfit. ‘We get excellent feedback from it about what people liked or disliked,’ he remarks. ‘But we are paying for that upfront.’
F5 Networks doesn’t want much
F5 Networks ‘occasionally’ gets broker feedback. The dearth is no tragedy, however, says John Eldridge, director of IR at the Seattle-based network equipment maker. ‘It’s not hugely important to us,’ says Eldridge. ‘Our IR program is pretty simple. We run our business well and, when we get a chance to talk with investors, we explain our business and market opportunities. If they like what they hear, they buy the stock. We wouldn’t tailor our message to investors based on feedback we got from the broker. The message is what it is.’
While acknowledging broker-provided feedback could be valuable to ‘others who use it in ways we don’t understand or haven’t thought about’, some of Eldridge’s encounters with it have left him downright gun-shy. Broker-supplied commentary following a recent trip to Toronto was along the lines of We thought the presentation helpful but wish the IR person hadn’t been typing on his BlackBerry.
‘Another thing that can be damaging is if you have two executives on the road and one is praised and the other not,’ laughs Eldridge. ‘You don’t necessarily want to hear that. That kind of feedback can just be a distraction.’