Fed Head Acknowledges Risk

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told the Women in Housing and Finance and Exchequer Club today that the U.S. Central bank is prepared to act aggressively to help stem problems caused by the recent housing slump and strains on the credit markets that are putting economic growth at risk.
 
Many analysts who fear that the United States is headed for a recession, reacted positively to the Fed chairman’s remarks and his public acknowledgement that the economy may indeed be in trouble.
 
Bernanke commented that policy makers are now more worried about sustaining economic growth than they are about inflation and pointed to rising oil prices, lower stock prices and falling home values as drivers for hurting consumer spending over the next year.
 
The Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy setting body, will hold a two-day meeting January 29-30.  Bernanke’s comments today reinforced expectations that rates will be cut by a half percentage point.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com
 
 

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

A little cynicism to start the new year off right!
 

 

PondelWilkinson, investor@pondel.com
 
 

Conference Buzz: Bored of Directors

Rising shareholder activism clearly topped the hot topic list when the National Investor Relations Institute’s senior-most members got together recently at their annual roundtable bash at the posh Montage resort in Laguna Beach.
 
Two take aways…
 

First, consider having a large institutional shareholder sit on the board. Other professional shareholders will like that and sense that their interests are being well represented. It will keep activists away. 
 
Second, in a swing of the pendulum and score for baby boomers and smart young dot-com retirees, seek board board members. No, that was not a typo you just read. The wisdom being imparted relates to seeking directors who have time to be directors, rather than time-strapped CEOs and others who are actively engaged in their careers.

 
As for Laguna Beach, it was too chilly to get a suntan.

 

Roger Pondel, President, rpondel@pondel.com
 
 

Do Retail Investors Matter?

A recent survey by Thomson Financial noted that only 18% of 102 investor relations officers (IROs) surveyed actively court individual investors and that less than 25% had plans to begin doing so in the near future. In a report on the survey, IR Magazine, noted that while some IROs believe individual investors can add to the stability and diversity of their company’s investor base, many do not think the effort is worth it, citing the tribulations of dealing with mom-and-pop investors who might panic with downward price movements, bombard companies with questions and increase the risk of securities class actions.
 
However, for a public company that is largely held by institutions, increasing the retail base might not be a bad idea. Increasingly, large institutions and mutual funds are becoming activist in nature and many are opposing proxy initiatives. The National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC) notes the following characteristics of retail investors:
 

  • On average, NAIC’s 119,000 members hold a stock for at least four years (that is much, much longer than the average institution holds a stock).
     

  • The combined portfolio value of NAIC members is $70 billion.
     

  • Cumulatively, NAIC members invest approximately $75 million of new capital per month.

 
So, if you’re an IRO looking for a way to bring new interest into the stock, it might be worth investigating some of the retail-oriented investor communications programs that are available to help you reach this powerful group of long-term investors.

 

Laurie Berman, Senior Vice President, lberman@pondel.com