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With Everybody Stuck At Home, Investor Conferences Are Going Virtual

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With Everybody Stuck At Home, Investor Conferences Are Going Virtual

With the world at a COVID-19-induced standstill, many conference organizers have either gone online (Benzinga is one of them) or had to cancel upcoming events altogether. There is no clear timetable on how much longer we will be in this state.

Publicly traded companies are already limited in when they can provide business updates because of quiet periods ahead of quarterly earnings reports. So at a time when market uncertainty is at its highest, the window for companies looking to engage with investors is getting smaller.

“In the short term, from an issuer perspective, they’ve lost the opportunity to engage with investors,” said John Viglotti, senior vice president of corporate services, investor access at OTC Markets.

As a result of the rash of investor conference cancellations—investment bank conferences around the world are being canceled or postponed, as are Investor Days from companies like Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-B), and United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL), to name a few. More companies have expressed an interest in participating in online conferences according to Jason Paltrowitz, executive vice president of corporate services at OTC Markets.

“If you think about it from the issuer perspective, companies are always looking to reach new investors. What we’re seeing with our virtual platforms is that because the traditional conferences are being shut down, we are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in this business.”

Virtual Investor Conferences, OTC Markets Group’s online-only investor conference series, has already hosted six conferences through March of this year, compared to 20 in all of 2019 and 10 the year before that (you can view the upcoming conference schedule here). The increased interest, Paltrowitz said, has come from participants throughout the conference ecosystem, including individual companies, conference organizers, and investor relations firms.

“If you ask any investor relations professional, they’d say that in the good times and the bad times you need to be out there telling your story,” he said. “Yes, there’s a crisis, but what are you doing to get out of it? Where are you positioning yourself in it? Are you able to ride out an economic downturn like this, and if so, how? Investors want to know that.”

Paltrowitz also said that online attendance has been higher than normal, as the lack of face-to-face alternatives coupled with the recent market sell-off has made for an environment where investors are searching for information.

“There’s no lack of investors that are sitting at home and willing to listen to an investor presentation as opposed to getting on a plane and going to a conference in New York or someplace else,” he said. “People have more time in the day to do other things than they normally would.”

Photo by Tyler Callahan on Unsplash

 

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