It is often easier to explain by showing examples of what not to do. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t companies out there doing Investor Relations web sites right.
One such company is Nestle. What makes Nestle’s IR page interesting is that, although a well known household name in America, it is in reality very much an international company. In fact, to invest in Nestle without the machinations of investing on a foreign stock market, an US investor would have to buy shares via ADR. Of course, Nestle isn’t the only international company out there, but as the world’s biggest food company, you can imagine that the interest from around the world is high.
Nestle’s headquarters is in Switzerland. American investors aren’t the only ones who would be interested, so the IR page will have to not only provide good information, but do it in multiple languages.
No big deal?
Well, just getting the accent mark right trips up our friends at Yahoo Finance. Although, to be fair, I don’t know how to do it on my article either. :)
When Investor Relations Pages Go Good
Let’s check our first criterion for a good IR web site, a good link on the front page of a company’s “main” website. At www.nestle.com we see a link right in the main menu to Investor Relations.
On the Nestle IR site, under reports you can get annual reports back to 1998 in English, French, and German. If you prefer the financial statements you can get full year financials back to 1998 and half year reports back to 2002. You can also get company press releases, audio recordings or transcripts of conference calls and roadshows.
One of the really great things about the Nestle IR site is that they have taken full advantage of the way the Internet and websites work. One hot topic, according to the email that Corporate-Eye gets, is getting corporate governance and management information to investors. Technically, the Corporate Governance section of Nestle’s website is under the “All About Nestle” part of the site, but knowing that such information is very likely to be of interest to investors as well, Nestle places a menu item to the information under Investor Relations as well. The information is not duplicated, rather investors are subtly shifted to a new spot in the navigation menu while the information loads in the main reading area as if the user were just continuing to read in the IR section.
The web site also allows investors to sign up to receive emails alerts. Such emails can be configured to be received in English, French or German. These alerts can be customized such that an investor receives only the information he or she is interested in. For those who prefer an RSS feed, that option is available too (and marks, as far as I can tell, the only place where English is the only option).
While there are individual product websites for various products and countries, including the US specific site nestleusa.com, all of them point back to this one investor relations page so that an investor can rest assured that if they are using this one section of the nestle.com web site, that they are getting all the investor targeted information made available by the company. It appears that even the home country nestle.ch investor page points back to the nestle.com IR page, although I might be missing something since I’m yet another American who only speaks English. I’m not sure if one of those menu items means “Investments” in…um…wait, Wikipedia — Switzerland — language — German, French, Italian, Romansh…I’m going to go with German. Yes, German, final answer. I’m not sure if any of those links means “Investments” in German.
What it all comes down to is that the Nestle IR web site has A LOT of information for an investor looking for data. It’s safe to assume that investors will always want more, but if every company’s IR web site had this much data, presented this cleanly, the world of investor relations web sites would be off to a great start.