September 28, 2012

More on “Earnings Call Disruptions: Why Don’t They Happen More Often?”

Recently, on “The Mentor Blog,” I included an audio clip from a recent earnings call that went awry when someone accidentally blurted out some profanity in what may have been a cross-call (I have since deleted the audio clip in case the person’s name could be made out). Many members responded with their own stories or analysis including:

– In my many years here, I have only had one interruption which was caused by an inexperienced operator – to wit, the operator inadvertently connected her “management line” into the call so that while my CEO was speaking the operator and an IR person came over the line discussing the volume on the call. No harm done and almost immediately corrected, but I think the most common way it can happen is for either the operator or the inside IR person to accidentally hit that button (I suggest that perhaps it would best if they labeled it with giant “Dr. Evil” lettering, “DO NOT PUSH” or something similar).

– While this has never happened to me or any former client, I have heard narratively of management teams not remembering to “turn off” their mikes following the end of the call so that extraneous commentary is accidentally added to the recording. As politicians and newscasters know, don’t make jokes or add commentary while “on set” regardless of whether or not you believe that you aren’t being recorded.

– On one of our first calls after going public a while back, our CFO kicked the speaker connection under the table and we were dropped. The conference call service did a great job of asking people to hang on the line and we called back in. He got a lot of grief internally for a while (we told him to sit away from the speaker connection, etc.). As far as the listeners knew, it was just a glitch in the system (we were probably off for 2 minutes or so).

– We’ve only had one in 11 years due a power failure on our end. Being in the Northeast, we do sometimes get more concerned during the winter.

– I wonder how many people are recording the “prepared remarks” in advance for playback and then only fielding questions “live.” We’ve contemplated it but are never done far enough in advance to pull it off. Plus, we don’t have enough quality recording equipment in house to make it work. With that said, with an iPhone, I’m sure it would sound 100x better than a high quality recording from 2002.

– In my experience, I would say that it’s because the telephone/web conference coordinators and the investor relations personnel who are literally physically running the meeting are fairly skilled about running the call itself, handling the question sequencing and maintaining muting and other similar functionality (and reminding others of this too).

– Could the process be spoofed? I.e., could I dial in and register as if I were an analyst known to the company? I suppose so, but if two callers registered as the same person, that would obviously raise suspicions.

– Jim Brashear noted: “The reason you don’t see more disruptions is that companies only allow questions and comments from credible, known analysts and investors. They don’t take random calls from just anyone. My companies have allowed anyone to dial in and listen to earnings calls, but if someone wants to be able to ask a question or make a comment they have to register their name and organization. When the caller presses the button to be added to the queue for asking a question, we can see in the conference room their name and organization in a list of everyone that was added to the queue. We can choose to prioritize or ignore the names, as we choose. ”

Transcript: “JOBS Act Update: Where Are We Now”

We have posted the transcript of the popular webcast: “JOBS Act Update: Where Are We Now.”

Instead of “Just Vote No” Campaign – “Just Stay Home” and Don’t Vote…

With elections on everyone’s mind, I thought it was appropriate to point out this interesting blog from Keith Bishop from a few months back about the use of a strategy to prevent quorum from being reached rather than just voting no against a board…

– Broc Romanek