Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Nicholas Center Blog
On Friday, April 20th, the Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking was proud to have Class of 2000 alumnus John Hulbert, Vice-President of Investor Relations for Target Corporation, who led a fascinating discussion on the role of investor relations at Target and its importance in the corporate world. The Nicholas Center was also joined by the incoming students from the Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management who was on hand to hear the presentation.
Target Corporation is an American retailing company headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. It has grown to be one of the largest discount retailers in the United States, only rivaled by Wal-Mart. Just this past year, Target made a significant investment in expanding its brand into Toronto, Canada. This was its first international expansion and could prove to be a “game changer” in terms of worldwide market share between them and their competitors. Mr. Hulbert started his job in Target immediately following his internship in 1999. Before then, he rotated between several roles within the company, including: support services, technology finance area, and property development finance in which he had exposure to large capital projects of opening new stores.
Mr. Hulbert began his presentation with an introduction of the purpose of investor communications, which included the objectives of the role, which he summed up as being: to communicate operating performance, management’s growth strategy, and to reduce the unnecessary volatility in the value of shares. In our discussion, Mr. Hulbert emphasized the importance of transparency in his interactions with investors, which helps him avoid misleading analysts when determining the value of the company’s stock price. “Performance justifies the stock performance; not investor relations” John stated. When questioned on how much information should be leaked out to investors and/or analysts, Mr. Hulbert shared that he is careful about what he communicates, and that he gives only the facts and strays away from opinion. He also stated that he “Never says always, and never says never” when it comes to assessing a situation. That he is open to taking each challenge in its own unique manner.
Next, Mr. Hulbert discussed about regular reoccurring investor communication meetings with investors. Target takes accountability to its shareholders by conducting quarterly live conference calls in which management team takes live questions. Although it’s challenging and risky for having such direct communication, it’s valuable for company to build investor relations based on trust and openness.
In conclusion, an investor relation specialist is a highly important role in any company and requires a unique cadre of skills that not only consist of great verbal and analytical skills, but as John states, “a sharp financial background to understand the language of any business, which is finance!"
Thank you again, John Hulbert! The discussion was very interesting and the presentation was highly interactive, with both current students and incoming students asking many questions and learning a lot.