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Earnings Call Perfected: Recapping the Webinar

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Earnings Call Graphic
July 7, 2020

The following was originally published on the Sentieo blog and is reprinted here with their permission.

Last week, we hosted a great roundtable discussion with several investor relations professionals on best practices for earning calls. 

We had the pleasure of speaking with Stacy Turnof from Edelman, Steve Soter from Workiva, Moriah Shilton from LHA Investor Relations, and Jeremy Peruski from VEA. 

In great detail, these experienced professionals went over:

  • Messaging and other call preparation activities
  • Tips on pre-call collateral and call execution 
  • Importance of collaboration between IR and other corporate functions, such as SEC reporting teams 
  • Planning for all possible outcomes around events, such as different versions of press releases
  • Post-call best practices 

Stacy started the conversation by highlighting how things have changed over the last quarter: “Earnings this season is very different, and we’re approaching it differently in the midst of COVID.” 

When faced with challenging or negative news in an earnings report, Stacy says, “The key is to find some balance. As an example, when we look at retailers, we see sales down 50–60–70%, so we’re telling companies to try to share statistics to off balance if sales are down. Talk at sales recovery. The second part is discussing how the company is being proactive with its initiatives. And lastly, how are they flexing their model and really pivoting.”

With a disconnect between IR and SEC reporting, especially in the COVID environment, Steve provided some best practices for teams preparing for an earnings call. Steve suggested “aligning on goals and objectives early,” and added that keeping everyone in the loop is key. “Don’t let other teams be the last to know. Communicate early and often.”

Of course, the release and the call are just the tip of the iceberg. A quarterly brainstorming call goes beyond a discussion of the financial results. Moriah discussed the importance of preparation in creating an effective, comprehensive conference call script and Q&A document.

“Timeline of deliverables, due dates, and responsibilities are key. You don’t want to learn last minute that there is a discrepancy in messaging or miss out on some key data that can be used for the call.” Preparation is also important. Moriah suggests a planning session with all constituents, an outline, then script and Q&A with at least 2 rehearsals. Finally, she said, “The devil is in the details: discussing the general order of the Q&A for the analysts.” 

Jeremy, who advises some really large Asian clients, discussed some critical issues for non-U.S. companies reporting this season. Some of the best practices are the same as the U.S.: identifying what are the key industry metrics people are following. "A lot of the times Asian companies want to figure out what the best practices are from a U.S. investment perspective. You want to make sure you’re measuring apples to apples.” 

Jeremy also talked about the critical issues companies face this reporting season. “Being able to provide transparency and color to help the analysts and portfolio managers build out their models better” is key as companies set up expectations to getting back to the new normal.

As we head into the second quarter earnings season, this roundtable is a must listen, not only for IR professionals but also buy-side analysts who want to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of an earnings call. 

You can view the webinar here

About the Author

Nick Mazing is Director of Research for Sentieo, a financial and corporate research platform for executives, investment analysts, and researchers. His career also includes having worked on both the buy side and on the sell side at Lehman Brothers. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and is based in Sentieo’s New York City office. 

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