Investors, this is your day!

If you’re not already doing an “analyst day” every year or two, maybe you should be. That’s my takeaway from “NIRI Survey Reveals Current Analyst/Investor Day Practices” – a benchmarking study released Monday by NIRI.

Key finding: 71% of the 431 investor relations professionals responding to NIRI’s survey hold a periodic analyst/investor day. It’s a chance to show off management and tell the company’s story in-depth. After all, you’re locking investors in a room for a half day or full day, so this is “quality time.”

Of course, the larger a company is, the more likely it is to host a regular analyst day. But even among small caps ($250 million-$2 billion), 63% offer a “day.”

Some 70% hold their analyst days in New York or another major investment center, while 40% invite investors in to meetings at a corporate facility, NIRI found.

A few thoughts based on analyst days I’ve been involved with:

  • The CEO and CFO play host and give the strategic overview, but having a half day or more is a great opportunity to demonstrate management’s bench strength by bringing division heads, R&D leaders or operating executives forward for investors to meet them in a fairly controlled environment.
  • It’s also a chance to put on display the chemistry of the management team – showing investors how the top execs relate to each other. Not a bad idea to do this some months after a big merger, to present a unified, compatible team.
  • How often you hold an analyst day is up to you. How fast is the story evolving? If there’s progress every year, annual is great. If this year looks a lot like last, maybe not. (NIRI found 49% of companies who hold “days” do so annually, 35% less often, 12% on an ad hoc basis, 3% more than once a year.)
  • The name “analyst day” doesn’t quite capture the fact that institutional investors are the primary audience. Sure, the sell side attends – but real shareholders and potential investors are the main point of the effort.
  • I personally like the on-site analyst day, giving investors a feeling of seeing the business and kicking the tires, even though they’re carefully shepherded on any tours of the plant or laboratories. But a lot depends on your location. Call up a few analysts or investors and get their input before scheduling your day.
  • Schedule enough breaks to let investors check email, used the phone and visit the restroom. It’s hard to limit your speakers – but, hey, give people a break.

What’s your experience with analyst days? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Any tips?

© 2011 Johnson Strategic Communications Inc.

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