Optimising your company website for investors

The corporate website provides a real opportunity to ensure that the investment case is well understood and IR is visible. Sonya Ghobrial analyses FTSE 100 websites to identify impactful ideas.

As a former head of IR I have to admit, somewhat embarrassingly, that the time spent looking at the investors section of the Heineken website was much less than it could have been. It was something that was always on the endless IR ‘to do’ list. Aside from ensuring that it was up to date with consensus, figures and releases, I never had the time to evaluate how useful it was relative to how useful it could be. Post MiFID II, as an important free resource and first-stop learning about a company, the website merits more focus. 

With this in mind I looked at a broad data set of company investor sections to find examples of best practice and innovation, hopefully allowing IROs to benefit from something I expect most would not have time to do themselves! Findings are as at mid October, and examples below whilst not all-inclusive, hopefully provide context and ideas. 

The FTSE 100 was my sample set, largely assuming that predominantly global companies would have bigger budgets. Investor sections were reviewed for best practice in increasing company understanding, the investment case and providing good clear information and contacts.  Notably this focused less on ‘bread and butter’ areas such as results, news releases and information, which were typically there for every company, but more on clever insights making the investor case more compelling and communication best in class. 

What is the investment case?
Just under 25% of the FTSE 100 included an investment case in the website investor section. Whilst a higher number had company strategy detail, fewer communicated an investment proposition or reasons to invest. Explicitly providing this can reinforce rationale for buying shares and aid market understanding. Something particularly important given MiFID II with potentially reduced analyst coverage or investor access to analysts. TUI Group cleverly shared three reasons to invest, supported with a downloadable presentation. Reckitt Benckiser and Rentokil provided key bullets on the investment case and allowed you to access more information on each bullet, while easyJet, Imperial Brands and Whitbread also neatly provided investment cases with supporting facts and colour on each argument. Ferguson also included a short CEO video message on the investment proposition with mini videos on each supporting argument.  

Educating about the company 
A quarter of the company websites provided general investor presentations or factsheets. Barclays included a two page factsheet with company overview, strategy, performance and targets. Burberry shared a longer version also including responsibility goals and contact details. Aberdeen and Standard Life and Rolls-Royce also provided investor newsletters. 

Some companies also shared historic financial data making it easier to build a company financial model. Next, Burberry, Barratt, Informa and BAE shared comprehensive detail covering a longer period than one year’s history. TUI Group, Coca-Cola HBC and Ocado also cleverly allowed you download this into Excel.

Mondi, Informa and 3i Group all included separate sections for debt investors, and BAT even had a separate debt microsite with all debt related considerations.

Whilst most companies included analyst coverage, a more limited number also shared full analyst contact details. 
To show or not to show consensus? 

One in three companies included consensus, a little surprising given MiFID II regulation is increasing the potential for a variety of versions which can be confusing. Those websites sharing consensus included appropriate disclaimers, often requiring acknowledgement before access.  

Reinforcing the message from a capital markets day 
Whilst  presentations, webcasts and transcripts were common from capital markets days, four companies included mini videos to reinforce takeaways and content. Centrica, Mondi, Diageo and National Grid each in their own innovative way used them to summarise event content and key messages – a brilliant teaser generating interest before reviewing the detail, and a useful tool to promote the event internally as well.  

Where can I see you?
Coca-Cola HBC and TUI Group both shared financial calendars with not just reporting dates, conference and company events, but also roadshow dates and locations, thereby ensuring investors knew where and when to see the company,  which, given respective research agreements, they might not know. 

How can I reach you? 
One thing I was guilty of before was sharing a generic IR email with limited contact details.  Whilst I am aware of the fear of many unrelated non-market emails from sharing more, the connection to IR feels more personal and conversational with individual contact information. Pictures are helpful for identifying IR at events.  Informa, BP and Royal Bank of Scotland not only shared details and pictures but also included helpful IR biographies.

Finally, although obvious, it is worth checking how easy it is to find IR contact details on websites, with ensuring that these are clear in the investors section an easy win.      

Enabling investors to stay informed
While I will side-step the merits of apps, BAT, Royal Dutch Shell and Royal Bank of Scotland all prominently highlighted IR apps. Almost all companies provided alerts to sign up to news. Rolls-Royce even allowed sign up for text messages on release publications. 

Some companies helpfully provided reminders for events in calendars or tools allowing dates to be entered into your own calendars. 

The ‘bread and butter’ 
Whilst almost all companies provided share price charts, IHG, WPP, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons to name a few allowed charting performance vs peers. 

Closing thoughts
These points are not all-encompassing, but hopefully showcases some of the innovative ways to make the investor section more impactful and investor friendly.  Sustainability is another significant topic increasingly part of the investment decision and an important differentiator. 

Finally one further observation – hardly any companies incorporated feedback surveys on websites.  Where present it demonstrated a company’s willingness to improve the website and an easy way to find out how. 

Sonya Ghobrial is founder of Clear Giraffe IR. 

Published 10 January, 2019