September 4, 2008

The SEC’s New Corporate Website Guidance: Everything You Need to Know – And Do NOW

I’m pretty excited about our upcoming webconference for “The SEC’s New Corporate Website Guidance: Everything You Need to Know – And Do NOW.” The agenda is jam-packed, ranging from the SEC’s Corp Fin Chief Counsel Tom Kim – to online experts Dominic Jones and Ryan Lejbak – to legal wunderkinds John Huber and Stan Keller, and many more.

This webconference will not just parrot the SEC’s new guidance (as most firm memos have done). Instead, all of the panels will provide detailed analysis and guidance about how to implement the SEC’s new positions. They will explore what the possibilities now are for companies – and how you can (and should) leverage them.

If you try a no-risk trial for for 2009, you get access to this webconference for free (including the upcoming Fall issue of our quarterly newsletter, in which I provide a detailed roadmap of how you can comply with Regulation FD under the SEC’s new guidance). Note that membership rates are very reasonable, starting at $295 for a single user through the end of ’09 (this gets you this webconference as well as the quarterly newsletter, and more to come on the site).

If you already have received an ID/password for this year, you can renew your membership for 2009 now (and get free access to this webconference, etc. for another year).

Here Come the E-Forums!

It appears that some companies intend to take advantage of the SEC’s new rules clarifying how to apply the securities laws to e-forums. This will be surprising to many who predicted that only investors would be sponsoring e-forums.

For example, Amerco has used an e-forum for its annual shareholders’ meeting the past two proxy seasons (see this description from the first year). And Michael O’Brien of iMiners (who will be speaking at our webconference) notes in his blog that Oxygen Biotherapeutics will soon be launching an e-forum via iMiners’ turnkey eShareholderForum solution. Looks like the smaller companies will be leading the way here.

Broadridge’s New Social Network?

Kudos to Dominic Jones of IR Web Report for catching Broadridge’s announcement about a proposed social network/e-forum called “Investor Network” during the company’s August analyst conference call. Chuck Callan of Broadridge will be explaining what this is all about at our upcoming webconference.

Below is an excerpt from an unofficial transcript of the conference call; scroll down for the portion that deals with the social network since I included additional comments at the top because they seemed interesting as well:

Rich Daly (CEO of Broadridge): Now, let’s move on to the business segment overview. I’ll start with our largest segment, Investor Communication Solutions. As I mentioned earlier, the ICS segment represents over 70% of Broadridge’s revenue and operating profits. We anticipate fee revenue growth for this segment in a range of 5% to 9% which feels great. Overall revenue growth will be in a range of 2% to 4%, but that’s just given the decline in postage.

We are anticipating close sales in a range of $100 million to $110 million, of which 50% is expected to be recurring and 50% is expected to be event-driven. Event-driven sales will primarily be related to mutual fund proxies. For the second year in a row, we’re expecting solid sales for both registered equity proxy and transaction reporting, which we expect will drive our recurring sales activity.

Our strategic leadership around Notice & Access in the core communications business has increased the chasm between Broadridge and our competitors. Our leadership in Notice & Access has resulted in industry-wide savings of an additional $140 million. The 600 or so companies that took advantage of the program realized significant savings in postage and print costs. Our industry leading Notice & Access solution gave us entre to sell our registered proxy services to over 350 new companies increasing our client count by 45% to approximately 1,200 public companies.

Despite the industry’s financial success from Notice & Access, the reduced rate of voter participation by retail shareholders that resulted remains an industry challenge, but it’s an opportunity for Broadridge to once again provide industry leadership. Notice & Access has had a slightly better financial impact on Broadridge than we originally anticipated. This was primarily due to winning new clients for our registered proxy services as well as selling a greater percentage of the ancillary services that are required to support Notice & Access.

Although other vendors offer these ancillary services, we believe we had a higher win ratio because of our strong one-stop shop value proposition and our subject matter expertise. In fiscal year 2009, we’re anticipating a 40% adoption rate for Notice & Access. The fact that we ended a full year with an adoption rate of 28% and we had an adoption rate during our fourth quarter proxy season of 31%, lead us to believe that 40% is a reasonable estimate.

Event-driven revenues are anticipated to be virtually flat to slightly down this year given the current economic environment we’re still in. Although we’re in a down market, we don’t expect to see the fall off in event-driven revenues that we experienced in fiscal year 2003, when it was down 30%. In fiscal year 2008, we did see a decline in proxy contest and M&A activity. However, the changes in mutual fund regulatory focus requiring more activity, our market share gains and our new products in the mutual fund space lead us to believe that there will be less volatility than we experienced in the past. As we exit this down market, we anticipate we’ll get back to realizing the greater than 10% CAGRs and event-driven revenue we experienced before in the past.

Now, I’ll talk about a few other product opportunities in this segment. Summary prospectus is a pending regulatory change related to how investment companies communicate with investors. It could result in mutual fund prospectuses going from 20 plus pages today down to, say, five or so pages. Although the regulatory change would most likely have a negative impact on our pick-and-pack fulfillment business, the change could drive opportunities for our print-on-demand business. Directionally, we view it similarly to the way we saw the Notice & Access regulatory change.

Our Investor Mailbox product which is part of our e-delivery solution is designed to streamline multiple delivery channels into a single visit financial portal that investors find on their broker’s Web site. This product is having a positive impact by converting investors from traditional hard copy delivery to electronic delivery. Investor Mailbox has been the primary driver for increasing our electronic delivery rate for proxies from 47% to 52% this fiscal year.

I believe one of the new and exciting opportunities is around what we’re calling the Investor Network. It’s really unusual for us to be talking about something so early in its development, but the range of this opportunity could be anything from negligible to a unique and meaningful financial social network which could be really big. The Investor Network is an online electronic form that will facilitate shareholder to shareholder communications with a unique feature that will differentiate it from the chat rooms in existence today. Investors who use our Investor Network will be validated as real shareholders. This feature will not only enhance shareholder to shareholder communications, but it will provide a new channel of communication between shareholders and companies.

When the SEC expressed a desire to enable better communications between shareholders using today’s online technology, Broadridge stepped up to help provide a workable solution by leveraging our unique capabilities. The Investor Network will validate shareholders through the core plumbing of the Investor Communications segment while allowing institutional, retail and professional investors to remain anonymous. We are uniquely positioned to create a vibrant social network that validates real shareholders while allowing both anonymity and accountability for any statements made online.

Through providing industry-wide technology-based solutions for Notice & Access, summary prospectus and the new Investor Networks, we continue to demonstrate that we are in the communications solution business and it’s so much more than merely an ink on paper or physical distribution business.

Operator: Our next question will come from Leo Schmidt with the Chubb Corp.

Leo Schmidt – Chubb Corp: First of all, very good quarter gentlemen. Could you give us a little more insight into this new product you’ve been talking about? I know you’ve been talking about growing sales through acquisitions and then through products you invest to networks. Could you give us some insight how big that you think you could grow that? Could you explain a little bit how that works? Would that be something that investors would pay for, companies would pay for, would this be mandated by the SEC? Would you page your goal or could you give us a little sense of how that works and I’m assuming the incremental cost would not be that much bigger additive to revenues? Could you give us some sense to that?

Rich Daly: Okay. Well, the first thing I’m going to give you the sense of, is really hard to say this early. I took the unusual step and we actually talked about it internally here, but I took the step of talking about it now since we will be meeting with so many new entities out there on this topic. I really had a need to make it public completely. So far, the experts we are working with view it as on a range as – some of them think, well, maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, maybe it will just be another social network. To some of them, their eyes bulge open and say, wow, this could really be a game changer.

The activity here is really going to be driven by, is the SEC going to deem that this is something that shareholders need to have the right to. And if that was the case, then I can’t imagine at getting done any other way than through the plumbing we have in place, and again that’s a chasm between us and any one else, no one else is close to connecting every investor to every public company.

If this is going to be something where it’s on a shareholder opt-in basis only, then the validation process becomes a little more complicated, but again we are uniquely positioned to create that validation. And that would be, I’ll called it, a more evolutionary process where we take longer for the network to gain hold.

Now, depending on which way it happens is depending on who will pay and what the model will be. If it’s an opt-in model, I expect it’s going to be probably similar to an eyeball model where there is going to be advertising, et cetera. If it’s a right of shareholders, then it could be a combination of fees and banner advertising or other related activities. We have a significant number of people internally and externally working on this. We are looking to use the best mind on this activity outside of here. But let me be very clear. I think it’s upside, I think there’s very little downside, but we’re certainly not putting anything in any numbers we are representing to you to related to the future as it relates to this activity. But it is meaningful enough that if it was to become a real deal, we would be uniquely positioned with a high quality social network with real investors who are validated accountable and have an amenity, and I will call it a place where serious people could have serious conversations about their investments.

Leo Schmidt – Chubb Corp: I am assuming that some regulator somewhere has made noise about how making this happen and this is part of the reason why you have interest in this. This is not — is that a fair assumption?

Rich Daly: I have had meetings with the SEC staff and the chairman of the SEC on this topic.

– Broc Romanek