To postpone or go virtual?
Companies adapt investor day plans due to Covid-19 lockdown
APR 3, 2020
Companies with planned investor days weigh options
GoDaddy offered a series of virtual presentations from senior
management. Moody’s Corporation switched the format to an online
fireside chat. And Fiserv postponed until the fall, although it still
released new cost-saving targets.
These are just a few examples of how companies are adapting their
investor day plans in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has led
to a ban on public gatherings across much of the developed world.
spread of the virus has resulted in the mass cancellation of events
for the financial and business communities. As well as capital markets
days, investment conferences, non-deal roadshows, AGMs and
IR association events
have all been affected.
the Canadian IR association, provided a snapshot of issuer approaches
to Covid-19 disruption in a survey released in mid-March. Of the 26
respondents, 18 percent say they have postponed an investor day and 12
percent say they have changed their event to a virtual format.
While Covid-19 restrictions are posing logistical challenges, arguably
the greater difficulty facing companies with planned investor days is
how to discuss long-term targets in the current environment.
than 150 US companies have withdrawn annual guidance since March 16,
analysis of filing
data conducted for IR Magazine by Intelligize.
‘Capital markets days are typically seen as an opportunity to present
a new medium-term strategy, showcase the depth and breadth of
operational management, and demonstrate how different parts of the
business generate value,’ says Kate Bundy, head of events and
roadshows at Citigate Dewe Rogerson, a financial communications firm.
the current environment, meeting any of these objectives is likely to
be challenging. Many of our clients are withholding guidance for 2020
due to a lack of visibility, as they remain unable to quantify the
impact of the Covid-19 crisis on this year’s results.’
Moody’s Corporation considered canceling its March investor day, but
quickly dismissed the idea, according to head of IR Shivani Kak. ‘We
felt strongly that it was important to provide transparency to the
market about how we were doing as a business amid all the
uncertainty,’ she says. ‘Since the event, all the feedback regarding
our decision to proceed has been very positive.’
ratings and data provider decided to switch the format of the event
from a full investor day to a fireside chat with senior management,
accessible through webcast and teleconference.
thought focusing on the key questions our investors might have around
the pandemic and the related business impact would be the most
effective way to communicate with the market,’ says Kak. ‘The fireside
chat format allowed us to respond to these questions and concerns in a
balanced and thoughtful way while maintaining at least some of the
personal connection of an in-person event.’
says the switch to a virtual format was an ‘easy pivot’, thanks to the
help of external vendors and people across the company. ‘It’s hard to
compare the level of interaction on a call with an in-person investor
day, where attendees can meet and talk to senior management and
experience product demos,’ she says. ‘But online attendance exceeded
our expectations and generated a robust discussion.’
Fiserv, the US financial technology provider, took a different
approach to its investor conference, which was scheduled to go ahead
on March 25. Two weeks before the event, the company announced it
would push back the date until the fall, citing ‘caution related to
the coronavirus, and the priority Fiserv places on the health and
well-being of its investors, partners and associates.’
the same announcement, it revealed new synergy targets related to the
$22 bn acquisition last July of First Data, a payment processor, and
also reaffirmed its 2020 financial outlook.
Peter Poillon, senior vice president of IR at Fiserv, says there were
several reasons why the company chose to postpone rather than hold a
virtual event, of which many were logistical. But the main reason
related to the merger with First Data.
‘[G]iven our story as a newly combined entity was new, we believed the
in-person forum to showcase our strategy and our leadership was a
critical component of our investor deliverables,’ he explains. ‘We
believed a multi-hour phone call would sub-optimize the clarity of our
strategy and expected results. So we postponed the event to fall
Despite delaying the event, Fiserv still released new synergy targets
because they were ‘an immediate and key deliverable that we had
promised our shareholders we would share at our investor conference,
and we did not want to wait until late in the year to share,’ says
the day of the press release announcing the postponement, our CFO and
I were at a virtual conference hosted by Wolfe. So we had the
opportunity to communicate the new targets and the drivers with a good
number of investors. We also hosted calls, as requested, with a number
of our shareholders after the press release.’
Which way to go?
should companies with capital markets days in the calendar decide
between postponement, a virtual event or another approach? The
decision will depend on a number of factors, says Bundy.
‘Those operating in the hardest-hit sectors with limited visibility
may well be forced to postpone to allow leadership teams to focus
fully on managing the business,’ she says. ‘There is also the question
of analyst and investor capacity, as the entire market looks to
reassess the value of equities while working from home.
‘Asking your key sell-side and buy-side contacts whether they would
welcome an event over the coming weeks and how long they envisage
being able to participate for is a worthwhile exercise. A shorter
event highlighting a key segment of the business may prove more
popular than a lengthy one covering all bases.’
global basis, companies hold an average of 0.7 investor days per year,
according to the
IR Magazine Global
Investor Relations Practice Report 2019, which is based
on a survey of more than 900 IR professionals. Looking at the stats by
region, European companies hold 0.8 investor days annually, compared
with 0.5 for North American companies.
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