Reporting season

Excuse the extended silence. Reporting season is an all consuming time of year for me. In addition to actually writing a number of annual reports, I do a lot of travelling and lots of meetings with senior managers.

I look forward to it every year.

People are often perplexed. You’re into brands, they say. Why do you want to write annual reports? They position this as if it’s an either/or. I’ve never seen it that way. After all, what are brands for if not to generate profits for investors?

Their question also implies annual reports are just a writing exercise. Again, I’ve never seen them that way.

To me, annual reports are cues to sit down with decision makers one on one and quizz them in detail about what they did, why, what happened and what it all means at year end. I get to understand something of how the business worked over the last 12 months. And I get to hear the stories from the inside. It’s a chance to talk through the dynamics of a sector, the impacts that companies are watching, what their plans are, the tension points … In fact, it’s a huge opportunity to get multi-disciplinary views of the market and the entity from the actual people in charge of bringing home the results.

Here are 6 things I noticed companies seemed keen to talk about this year:

Margin
Justifying capital expenditure in challenging economic times
Shareholder returns (particularly dividends/distributions)
Investment grade rating
Contribution to the wider community and indeed the national economy
Diversity as a CSR metric

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