Whilst here in Mexico we were celebrating Independence Day last Wednesday September 16th, more modest and less visible celebrations of a sort were also taking place in the US, as IR Magazine hosted its annual awards ceremony, (for the first time a virtual event). This week we bring you the winners of the key categories and our take on why they can lay claim to the best in the business. We also recommend looking at the websites of the winners to learn from what they do.
The US IR Magazine Awards reward excellency in the investor relations profession. Awards are split into two category types: researched categories and nominated categories. The researched categories nominees are selected by hundreds of analysts and portfolio managers who independently cast their votes for who they think provide the best IR services across the US. By contrast, the nominated categories consist of individuals and companies, which submit written entries to a panel of experts made up of investment professionals and IR Magazine editorial members, who decide the winners. The winners of both category types are selected on their ability to outperform their peers. The nominees and winners have been able to face the growing demand to inform investors of the company’s risks, opportunities and overall landscape.
The following is a list of the key awards presented last week, with the shortlisted nominees, the winners of each category, and our thoughts on what sets the winners and nominees apart in selected categories:
Best financial reporting:
Cisco Systems, Comcast, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Microsoft (winner), The Allstate Corporation, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Union Pacific Corporation
Looking at the annual reports, Microsoft adds great value with a comprehensive letter from the CEO, comments on industry trends, economic conditions, challenges and risks. Of the nominees, we particularly liked the presentation of the Cisco, JP Morgan Chase and Allstate annual reports, including a comprehensive letter from the CEO, attractive graphs and tables to aid the interpretation of results, and photos showing a diverse board/management.
Best overall investor relations (large cap):
Boston Scientific, ConocoPhillips, Danaher, General Electric (winner), JPMorgan Chase & Co, Microsoft
Best overall investor relations (mid-cap):
Covanta, Domino’s Pizza, Hasbro, Kansas City Southern (winner), Matador Resources Company, Varian Medical Systems
Best overall investor relations (small-cap):
Casella Waste Systems, Talos Energy, Stoneridge (winner), Suncrest Bank, Sixth Street Specialty Lending, Virtus Investment Partners
Best use of technology for IR:
Apple, Becton Dickinson & Company, Best Buy, Microsoft (winner)
Best IR by a non-US company in the US market:
Deutsche Telekom, L’Oréal, Nestlé, The Adecco Group (winner)
One example of how Adecco has adapted itself for the US market is seen in its annual report, where metrics which differ from the standard US GAAP metrics are explained for the US market. Their annual report is also very aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate via the web version and a pdf version is also available for download.
Best ESG reporting:
AT&T, Etsy (winner), Hersha Hospitality Trust, Intel Corporation, Xylem
A recent survey by RBC found that over 70% of institutional investors have incorporated ESG components into their investment strategies. For that reason, it is becoming increasingly important to have consistent and insightful reporting on environmental and social factors.
Etsy’s report was visually attractive and true to the Company’s brand. They integrated their SEC 10-K report, financials, and detailed SASB disclosure all in one report, in an effort to comply with global standards and align their different metrics in a single, comprehensive message on Etsy’s impact. AT&T’s report has almost every reporting metric and standard incorporated into their publication: GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board), TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures), UNGC (UN Global Compact) and UNSDGs (UN Sustainable Development Goals). They carefully linked the KPIs implemented by the company to these frameworks. Hersha also boasts an impressive set of sustainable metrics with SASB, TCFD, GRESB (Green Building Certification Institute), and alignment to the SDGs. Their report is easy to read and case based. Intel Corp included a section on COVID-19 that offered clarity on where the company stood in the midst of a global pandemic, and what would be done to keep it safe. They combine GRI, SASB, TCFD and SDGs in their report, which also contains their 10-K file and Non-GAAP financials. Finally, Xylem’s report is structured based on their material issues, making their mission and the actions they are taking to resolve these issues as clear as possible. They have fantastic design and clear goals for the future, including SDGs, GRI and SASB standards.
Best IR during a corporate transaction:
Envestnet, Mastercard, Prudential Financial (joint winner), Univar Solutions, US Steel (joint winner)
Best IR website:
Baxter International, MSA Safety (winner), PVH Corp, Wendy’s, Wix.com
We particularly like the ability to view desired metrics over a quarterly or annual time period available in the Financial Fundamentals section under the Financial Information heading on the MSA website. We also like their Stay Connected section (provide your email and tick the boxes of the information you’d like to receive), similar to that on the PVH and Wix websites. Wix also has the option to just keep scrolling on the homepage, which then takes you through the various sections. This reduces the number of clicks necessary for investors to access key information. Baxter has also reduced the number of clicks by adding a corporate presentation quick view pane to their IR homepage. We also like the Investment Calculator and Dividend History provided on the Wendy’s website.
As always, Miranda IR would be happy to discuss IR best practices and to help improve your company’s investor relations strategy and products (websites, reports etc.) to set your company apart from the competition.
The complete list of nominees and winners can be found on the IR Magazine website.
Links to the winners’ investor relations websites: