Earnings season inherently creates chaos in the public markets and investor relations ecosystems, but in recent quarters our team observed a growing level of frustration with conference call and webcast providers as their networks experience bandwidth issues during the peak weeks. Service provider availability is stretched increasingly thinner, and many vendors are outsourcing calls to other networks to satisfy traffic demands. This is leading to an observable deterioration in the quality of customer service, resulting in denials of requested call times even though most call and webcasts packages are prepaid.  

We are aware service providers are making some investments to resolve these issues, but we wanted to uncover new ways to optimize and navigate the earnings season with confidence. To do so, we crunched the numbers on conference call density and compiled feedback from sell-side analysts.  The results of our findings and recommendations on earnings traffic control are summarized below: 

  • The chart tracks call density of the Russell 3000 during peak Q2 and Q3 earnings seasons.
  • Thursdays are the most popular day of the week for results calls and webcasts, followed by Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Alpha observed the most issues on Thursdays, as well as unexpected conflicts with peer companies that are also covered by similar sell-side analysts.
  • Traffic on Mondays and Fridays is unsurprisingly slow, and many small-cap and/or underfollowed companies should consider shifting to Monday afternoons and/or Friday mornings to maximize results.
  • Overall, IROs and their respective management teams need to be cognizant of these trends and recognize that peak call times may present a higher risk of service provider and/or operator errors.

Conclusion:  Companies should consider avoiding peak times, and be comfortable shifting call schedules to lower traffic days.  In particular, we’ve counseled clients to book earnings pre-records/calls months in advance and to avoid the second and third Thursday of the earnings seasons if at all possible. Multiple sell-side colleagues told us that these timeslots would be welcomed changes, allowing them to optimize their workflow and could even improve the quality of their research.

We realize Mondays and Fridays have been perceived as sub-optimal in the past, but we’ve had success in shifting a few of our partnership clients to Monday afternoons or Friday mornings.  Hopefully this information gives IROs and their management teams confidence in shifting schedules in the future. Even a small change in traffic to new timeslots could go a long way toward improving vendor customer service and would create goodwill with both covering sell-side analysts and buy-side owners who would have less conflicts with other covered companies.