15+ min read
3 data-driven tips to improve your next earnings release
March 14, 2019
4 min read
Throughout earnings season, all eyes are on the latest company announcements that will move the market. But IR professionals know there’s much more going on behind the scenes to make sure their company’s earnings day goes off without a hitch.
One of the essential elements of earnings day reporting is preparing the release or official announcement. At a high level, the earnings release allows IR teams to share their company’s earnings story with the world. It also enables IR teams to set the stage and introduce a narrative for the earnings call.
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 messaging control.
Here are some of our research tips for putting together a release that stands out from the crowd:
1. Make it accessible
Analysts and investors move quickly during the 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.
IR teams might highlight other company news that may not otherwise have warranted a standalone release along with financial results. This could be a change in leadership, product announcement, or outlook on industry trends. Regardless, it’s essential to capture already short attention spans with the correct information early on.
“A good earnings news release informs existing investors and potential investors on 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 charts or graphics can also make release data more accessible. With intelligent search tools like AlphaSense, analysts, journalists, and internal teams can quickly export tables to add to their reports, making data collection easier for all parties.
2. Remain consistent
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 a company position, nuance changes in language, or granular insights buried in your release date.
“I’d strongly recommend having processes to check 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 that includes any information disclosed in an earnings release. Making a material omission (by accident or fraud) is never a 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:
- What terms or keywords have you used before when describing company developments?
- What broader trends have you or your competitors discussed before, and how are you approaching those topics now?
3. Stay authentic
Like all companies know, not all news is good news regarding earnings. Like having a consistent narrative, it’s essential 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? Then, use these insights to shape strategic quotes from company leadership 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. The quotes should reflect what you’re trying to say or acknowledge the headwinds you’re chasing.”
The right quotes can add a background and set the tone for the earnings call ahead.
“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. IR teams can build an announcement accessible to readers and authentically portrays their company by tapping into the right historical data.
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