Crisis in investor relations
By submitting current information via official information channel and holding the press conference thereafter, Holding Wydobywczy acted in accordance with the law and practices applicable to the capital market. Such communication seems to be correct, only provided that no such confidential information was disclosed at the conference, which had not been officially disclosed earlier.
In the capital market there exist a number of companies which provide positive information and communicate good financial results, but the valuation of their shares does not reach a satisfactory level c ompared to the domestic industry or the results recorded by their foreign competitors. Therefore, listed companies should not publish impersonal messages only. More efforts aimed at building investor relations are needed to give a full and true image of the company. However, the disclosure policy and building relations with shareholders must be consistent with the public market rules.
Legal regulations in force in Poland and throughout the European Union provide public companies with an option of using a wide range of tools for building investor relations, provided however that the company ensures that all market participants have equal access to information. The regulations impose on the issuers in the public market an obligation to comply with the disclosure requirements and to inform all market participants about significant events at the same time, that is in a specified, systematic way, in the form of a current or interim report and through certain information channels, such as the ESPI system in Poland. The company cannot allow a situation in which it addresses only a small group of shareholders, providing them in advance, or on an exclusive basis, with confidential information unknown to other market participants.
This does not mean that the company cannot organize conferences, briefings or meetings with selected shareholders and journalists. The important thing is to remember not to disclose at such meetings any confidential information, that is the information that has not previously been known to any person other than the company, or has not been communicated to the market, and which might affect the listing of the company's shares.
When meeting the investors, journalists and analysts, representatives of a public company may communicate information that reiterates or develops the information that has been made available to the public or that is not of a confidential nature, but which will permit to better understand the company's business, industry, or a particular event. In the case of Holding Wydobywczy, such information may include at least an explanation why the costs of maritime transport do not adversely affect the profitability of importing African coal to Poland and, therefore, do not render the mining investments carried out in South Africa unprofitable, thus putting into question the purpose of the entire holding development strategy based on international expansion.
A number of companies meet their disclosure obligations in the manner described above. Firstly, they fulfil their legal reporting obligation using the ESPI system and, subsequently, they hold conferences, briefings and so-called road shows for journalists, analysts and investors, during which they reiterate the information that has already been disclosed and, concurrently, answer questions to dispel any doubts and discrepancies. The company's representatives may use their efforts to convince the participants to their point of view, thus leading to positive comments appearing in the press on the information disclosed. Such actions are not illegal and are widely used in the capital markets. Conferences are often broadcast live in the Internet and, therefore, they provide (theoretically) every person with equal access to information. It should only be emphasized that this information channel cannot replace the official distribution channel for current and periodic information, that is the ESPI system.
In developing a strategy of communicating with the market, you should also remember that every investor plays a specific role in the company. A shareholder taking a long-term approach to the investment is relatively immune to market fluctuations and the impact of gossips and rumours, which results in the stabilization of share prices, gives the company a sense of stability and provides capital for further financing of promising investments. In turn, an investor taking a short-term approach ensures the current liquidity of the company's shares, which positively affects the perception of the company by the market participants and, consequently, the present valuation of shares and the valuation of new shares. Therefore, it is important that both groups of investors be interested in investing in the company's shares in proportion to the company's size and capitalization, as only this will make the company attractive to the entire market.