With Quarterly Reporting season upon us once more, many investors will be re-evaluating their holdings given the turbulent macro-economic environment. In addition to ramifications from the war in the Ukraine and higher commodity prices, they will be trying to assess the continued impacts of COVID on supply chains, prices and workforces. A May Federal election and expectations the RBA will lift interest rates will also be top of mind. Meanwhile, all this uncertainty could make it more challenging for companies to raise capital.
It’s the responsibility of any listed company to communicate how these broader environmental factors might impact their business. For companies that report quarterly, it’s more crucial than ever to use their Quarterly Activity Reports as a way to help build trust and confidence in their path forward.
TIGHTENING ASX GUIDANCE
Over the last year the ASX has appropriately tightened up its guidance around the disclosure of non-material news, discouraging companies from making standalone business updates which could be considered ‘ramping’. Instead, its preference is to bundle all non-material news into the Quarterly Activity Report.
As this limits the number of touch points a company has with its shareholders, who want more frequent announcements in times of uncertainty, it places renewed importance on getting your Quarterly Activity Report right. It should meet two main aims:
- To provide an explanation of your main activities & cash flow movements during the 3-month period (mandatory for the past two years).
- To highlight your outlook and milestones along the way that will signal progress.
CASH RUNWAY IS PARAMOUNT
In addition to understanding a company’s business progress and outlook, investors rely on Quarterly Activity Reports to understand a company’s financial stability, often to assess the potential need to raise capital. In assessing their cash runway, investors do a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation:
Cash balance ÷ cash burn = quarters of cash remaining
As a general rule of thumb, less than four quarters of cash suggests a potential capital raise. In the current environment, therefore, the Quarterly Activity Report should outline any cost reductions or measures being taken to lengthen the cash runway.
Most companies reporting quarterly won’t have the earnings certainty to provide earnings guidance. In the absence of formal guidance, a company’s track record, as reported in its Quarterly Activity Report can be considered quasi-guidance. Investors therefore expect a company to report any significant deviation from its prior performance trend, or previous outlook statements. It’s also important to be clear about any anticipated shifts in revenue and costs.
When considering what to include in your Quarterly Activity Report, here are some helpful pointers:
ASX QUARTERLY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
- Lodge within 1 month of period end
- Announcement title must clearly identify it as a Quarterly Activity Report
- Cover activities and the expenditure incurred on those activities
- Explain how the expenditure relates to any recent ‘Use of Funds’ (UoF) statement, or explanation why it doesn’t. This takes the form of an Annexure containing a table that directly compares the Prospectus UoF to the period UoF.
- Include explanation of any payments to related parties, including Directors fees.
Don’t selectively include ‘good’ information without disclosing ‘bad’ information (considered ramping)
BEST PRACTICE CHECKLIST
- Highlight bullets covering core narrative and KPIs, include cash balance
- CEO quote or an Outlook section which summarises performance and outlook
- Summarise any impacts from broader macro-environment and how the business is adapting
- Avoid or explain industry jargon to make your announcement as accessible as possible
- Include the cash runway and potential catalysts that fall within this runway
- Consider a communication roll out for your announcement including accompanying investor presentation, webinar and replay, direct investor outreach and media strategy
For any Investor Relations enquiries, please contact
Catherine Strong firstname.lastname@example.org