Throughout earnings season, all eyes are on the latest company announcements that will move the market. But IR professionals know there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes to make sure their company’s earnings day goes off without a hitch.
One of the most important elements of earnings day reporting is preparing the release, or official announcement. The earnings release, at a high level, allows IR teams to share their company’s earnings story with the world. It also allows IR teams to set the stage and introduce a narrative for the earnings call to follow.
Like all elements of earnings season preparation, research plays a vital role in ensuring your announcement is communicated with a sense of consistency, relevancy, and transparency to the public, investors, and the press. The earnings release is a chance for IR teams to distill and complement the lengthy, often complex quantitative legalese of the 10Q and regulatory reporting data with qualitative insights to drive company narrative and maintain control of messaging.
Here are some of our research tips for putting together a release that stands out from the crowd:
Analysts and investors move quickly during earnings season. Some may have email alerts set up to track particular companies or keywords so that they’re instantly notified whenever new information is released.
Along with financial results, IR teams might highlight other company news that may not otherwise have warranted a standalone release. This could be a change in leadership, product announcement, or outlook on industry trends. Regardless, it’s important to make sure you’re capturing already short attention spans with the right information early on.
“A good earnings news release is informing existing investors and potential investors how the company is performing,” Connie Hubbell, CEO, Hubbell Group , said. “Get straight to the point, and don’t bury the lead.”
Optimizing for mobile readability, and using charts or graphics can also make release data more accessible. With smart search tools like AlphaSense, analysts, journalists, and internal teams can quickly export tables to add to their own reports, making data collection easier for all parties.
Consistency in layout, design, imagery, and messaging makes the information easier to find for analysts and investors. Maintaining continuity within your earnings narrative also helps build trust for analysts who may be looking for shifts in company position, nuance changes in language, or granular insights buried in your release data.
“I’d strongly recommend having processes in place for checking all data and information included in the earnings release,” Riley Adams, CPA and financial blogger, said. “No matter how trivial or small, there should be a rigorous backup process which includes any and all information being disclosed in an earnings release. Making a material omission (by accident or fraud) is never good practice.”
Maintaining consistency in messaging means putting a microscope on the language you’ve used in prior earnings releases. When going through historical data, consider these questions:
Like all companies know, not all news is good news when it comes to earnings. Just like having a consistent narrative, it’s important to maintain transparency when breaking bad news.
Look at historical examples of quarters where you may have underperformed. How have you responded in the past? How have your major competitors responded when they’ve missed their earnings targets? Use these insights to shape strategic quotes from company leadership to include in your release.
“Investors are putting their trust in you by investing in the company,” Hubbell said. “If you have bad news, tell it — but put it into context as to why. “The quotes should reflect what you’re trying to say, or acknowledge the headwinds that you’re chasing.”
The right quotes can add background, while setting the stage for potential earnings call questions.
“Bad results one quarter might have been expected by senior management, so long as the organization is working toward a grander scheme or trajectory,” Adams said. “The wording used requires truth mixed with how progress fits into the bigger picture of the company’s future. Striking this balance is more art than science.”
Earnings announcements can be a strategic way for companies to set the stage for earnings calls. By tapping into the right historical data, IR teams can build an announcement that is accessible to readers, and portrays their company in an authentic way.
For more earnings season tips, check out our IR Guide To Earnings Season Preparation.