The global auto shows are important for all the automakers, as it allows each automaker to showcase their products in various regions. For Nissan PR and IR, it's also an invaluable tool to spread our message and ultimately, tell better stories.
Part 1. Equity conference
In March of 2008, Nissan IR attended a major equity conference, which was held in conjunction with the Geneva Motor Show. For most global shows, an investment bank will host an equity conference, given the many automotive companies and their executives in attendance. These conferences allow for one-on-one meetings between the buy-side and corporate representatives. In addition, various corporations make presentations on different topics.
On the first day, we met with a number of European investors through one-on-one interviews. The meetings were balanced between current shareholders and some potential shareholders. While some questions differed with each meeting, there were many common areas of inquiry. Although we were in Europe, there were many questions regarding the US economy and the affect on the automotive industry. Other inquiries included the yen/dollar exchange rate, raw material costs and global expansion. Since we had not annouced the new midterm plan "NISSAN GT 2012" at that time, Nissan-specific inquiries focused primarily on the next midterm plan, including the guidance for FY2008 and the shareholder return policy.
For the second day of meetings, Nissan's CFO, Alain Dassas, joined the IR team. After attending the morning press conference at the show, we returned to the equity conference, as Nissan was presenting to investors.
- Infiniti Europe Presentation at the global automotive equity conference -
The topic of the presentation was in line with our main theme at the Geneva Motor Show: the European launch of Infiniti. The main speaker was Brian Carolin, SVP of Sales and Marketing in Europe (Mr. Carolin is now in charge of Sales and Marketing for Nissan North America). Mr. Carolin presented on the background, strategy and vision for Infiniti in Europe. The last half of the session was spent fielding questions from the audience. As always, Mr. Carolin answered each question in an entertaining, yet forthright manner. In my discussions with investors, feedback was very positive. In addition, many of the European investors were excited about the arrival of Infiniti to their home market. This was great news as many of these investors love cars and could be Infiniti customers in the near future.
At the request of the Renault IR team, we then had a lunch meeting with one of Renault's investors. These investors had specific questions regarding Nissan's European operations, so a meeting with Eric Nicolas, SVP of Administration and Finance in Europe, was arranged. Mr. Nicolas spent the entire lunch session discussing the European market, as well as Nissan's strategy for profitability, brand differentiation and growth. He was very convincing in explaining our fundamentals and outlook for Europe. Again, based on investor feedback, the lunch session went very well.
Afterwards, we returned with our CFO for more one-on-one interviews at the equity conference. For many of the investors, this was their first introduction to Mr. Dassas, since his appointment last October.
Part 2. Press conference and summary
- Infiniti FX50 Unveiling -
We concluded the day by attending the press conference for Infiniti Europe. Held at an off-site location, the Infiniti Europe team did an awesome job with the launch, including the introduction of the new FX50 by Mr. Ghosn, President and CEO. As a result of everyone's hard work and dedication, Infiniti was awarded "the launch of the show" by a major car magazine.
While we were not able to spend much time at the motor show, the trip to Geneva was well worth it, given the strength of the equity conference. Fortunately, we had a full schedule with many astute investors. From a logistics standpoint, conferences are the most efficient manner to meet with many investors, given that time is not spent traveling to the next meeting.
Ultimately, the presentations and meetings are extremely beneficial, as they allow us to tell our story and showcase our executives. Investors base part of their investment decisions on the strength of a company's executive management. Presentations are always important but investors also judge an executive's abilities by the way he or she answers questions. The sessions with Mr. Dassas, Mr. Carolin and Mr. Nicolas demonstrated that we have heavy hitters in our executive lineup.
Nissan IR would like to thank Mr. Carolin, Mr. Nicolas, Mr. Wright, Infiniti and Nissan in Europe for taking the time out of their busy schedules to support our IR activities. This was a great way to instill investor confidence in the company.