Holmes Report 14 Feb 2011 // 12:00AM GMT
In 2009, The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), a leading global chemical company, experienced a period of major transformational events, including decreased demand in the global chemical industry, the cancellation of a $17 billion joint venture in Kuwait, as well as the litigation and settlement with the Rohm and Haas Company (ROH) and the closing of that acquisition.
To respond to these challenges, Dow and FD developed and executed an integrated capital markets and corporate communications program to articulate management’s strategy and the Company’s compelling investment proposition focused on market leadership, innovation and the value of the ROH acquisition. The 2009 program culminated in an overwhelmingly well-received Investor Day that enabled Dow to effectively re-launch itself as a global leader in science and innovation, and rebuild its reputation among key stakeholders.
Building on momentum gained in 2009, Dow created a comprehensive multi-stakeholder financial communications campaign for 2010. The campaign consisted of a capital markets program centered on accountability and execution to deliver on the market’s heightened expectations, and a corporate communications campaign that included aggressive outreach to the business and financial media, designed to communicate the Company’s optimized portfolio, global presence, unmatched innovation pipeline and strengthened financial profile.
While the investment thesis for 2009 clearly resonated with investors, survey research conducted in early 2010 indicated that the market remained skeptical with regard to the Company’s growth potential in light of the current environment characterized by low demand, margin pressure and pricing volatility. Specifically, FD’sresearch showed that in order to build confidence in Dow’s growth momentum and its global bench strength, investors wanted greater access to line managers and specific business units in 2010. Further, research showed it was necessary to build confidence among sell-side analysts in Dow’s ability to grow its business model in order to generate interest in the stock at varying price points.
The primary objectives of FD’s integrated communications program were to:
· Build confidence in Dow’s growth strategy by demonstrating proof points of accountability and execution against key goals for delivering consistent, sustainable, earnings growth and returns, as originally outlined at the November 2009 Investor Day.
· Continue to increase transparency with the investment community by maximizing the impact of sell-side relationships, leveraging management’s time for strategic outreach to current and potential buy-side investors, and deepening investor understanding to build necessary support for the stock.
· Support growth/innovation messages and establish linkages between innovation, growth and higher margins.
· Expand international marketing efforts and build a pipeline of interest and support for all price points.
· Leverage a diverse range of top-tier media targets to articulate Dow’s strengthened financial position, turnaround and transformation.
Budget: Monthly Retainer Program: $110,000.
Increase the Depth and Transparency of Investor Communications
· Building on the success of the 2009 inaugural edition of Dow’s Databook, which provides comprehensive insight into the key drivers of the Company’s profitability and market success for each business unit, Dow amplified messaging in its 2010 Data Book related to innovation and sustainability.
· Given Dow’s diverse shareholder base – in terms of ages, preferences and sentiment – an effort was made to move beyond traditional communications and leverage various distribution mediums, including a digital newsletter, an improved investor relations website (including a new governance section), and increased use of video both externally and internally on the company’s TV station Dow World News.
o These unique vehicles gave interested investors deep access to corporate information and nearly tripled the number of investors with which the Company interacted without adding a single new staff member.
Prioritize Sell-Side and Buy-Side Interaction
· Attendance at sell-side conferences was reduced, and focus was increased on top targets, road shows and providing access to business leaders beyond the C-suite through site tours to high-growth business units and global facilities, resulting in more than 5,641 investor touch points.
o Dow participated in 14 international road shows in 2010, versus only 1 in 2008.
· A focused event, the Advanced Materials Division (AMD) Sector Day,washeld in Philadelphia in May 2010 for analysts, investors, and media, highlighting the Company’s growth and innovation message. In addition to a CEO keynote and presentations by key business leaders, an Interactive Innovation Experience showcased the division’s most innovative projects.
· The broader Investor Day was held in Midland, Michigan in November 2010. The theme, “The Right Formula”, demonstrated how Dow will reach its financial goals through three integrated “pillars”: 1) a strong geographic presence, 2) a robust innovation pipeline and 3) the enhanced competitiveness of its business portfolio. Investors were given the unique opportunity to engage with Dow leaders in small groups or one-on-one conversations.
Leverage Top-Tier Business/Financial Media to Successfully Communicate Growth Momentum
· Top-tier media were leveraged as a critical vehicle for communicating to the financial community the implications of Dow’s widely touted transition from traditional commodities to performance chemicals.
· CEO Andrew Liveris acted as the primary spokesperson, and specific, influential media targets were chosen to target investors and prospective business partners in the U.S. and abroad.
· In communicating financial results, media and IR teams worked collaboratively to highlight Dow’s sales growth in emerging markets, new product launches, subsidiary performance and additional information to help the media understand the Company’s earnings potential.
Advance Policy-Oriented Executive Platform
· Through his Advanced Manufacturing Platform (AMP),Liveris worked to raise the visibility of Dow as a leader of discourse around issues that impact the company, focusing specifically around the American economic recovery and advocating for public and private initiatives to support the domestic manufacturing sector.
o Top-Tier Op-Ed Placements – Several op-eds were placed in USA Today, Forbes (co-authored with the Sierra Club) and The Houston Chronicle, which highlighted the need for an Advanced Manufacturing Platform in the U.S. in order to drive investment and job growth.
o Book Release – Liveris authored Make it in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy, a book that articulates the critical role of the manufacturing sector in the U.S. economy.
o High-Profile Events – Dow Kokam’s battery plant groundbreaking ceremony in June 2010 at Dow’s headquarters highlighted innovative technologies and regional job creation and was attended by Vice President Joe Biden.
Evaluation [please see appendix for additional detail]
· Stock Price Performance – Stock price rose from its lowest point of $5.89 in early 2009 to $35.61 in January 2011, most recently hitting three new 52-week highs over the course of that month.
· Investor Response – The 2010 AMD and Investor Days were both well-received and well-attended, with about 200 current and target investors, analysts and media who either attended or interacted with each event. According to survey research, both events exceeded expectations, with significant gains in perceptions around Dow as an investment opportunity, as well as the Company’s future earnings growth and innovation pipeline. Finally, Dow has seen significant traction in expanding investment from more targeted buy-side firms.
· Sell-Side Analyst Response – Investment community events generated positive commentary and FY2010 consensus earnings estimates grew from $1.29 to $1.86 between the 2009 Investor Day and January 2011. Further, the number of analyst Buy ratings increased from three in November 2009 to seven in January 2011. Dow also received positive feedback at a well-attended London sell-side breakfast in October 2010.
· Business Media Coverage Highlights – Messages have resonated well in media, leading to targeted feature placements in major top-tier publications, including Fortune.com, Financial Times, Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Smart Money and Forbes.