Questions from Dungo and others may be irrelevant for the Wall Street analysts who typically dominate these conference calls, peppering executives with questions about sometimes arcane financial details. Nomura’s Dolev, who has a buy rating on Square, supported the effort but said it’s seen by his analyst peers as more of a gimmick than anything.
“It’s like an intermezzo,” he said, a time for an analyst to tune out and check email. “It’s not material for our purposes.”
For others, like Jeff Cantwell from Guggenheim Partners the visual aspect helps them sift through the information.
“I like it quite frankly,” Cantwell said. “They provide a lot of information and color, and the way they go about it helps us better understand not only quantitative side but qualitative side of what’s happening with their business.”
Square is hardly the only one spicing up its quarterly events. Adidas takes a similar design-oriented approach, as does Zendesk. Stitch Fix, which went public in November, also features clients and professional photography throughout its reports. Adyen is another non-conventional, artistic example. Even 115-year old Ford upgraded earnings for a more eye-catching alternative.
While its earnings release is mostly black and white with no photographs, T-Mobile’s conference call is a different story. Executives host a relatively lively video conference call, streamed on YouTube. They take questions from Twitter, Facebook or text message with a live dashboard of questions running during the call. In the second quarter last year, CEO John Legere wore his signature black leather jacket with a pink T-Mobile logo while CFO Braxton Carter donned a pink cowboy hat.
Netflix also streams its conference call on the social media site, while Twitter accepts questions from investors on social media and refers to them by their Twitter handles instead of full names.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk surprised analysts by mixing up the electric car maker’s earnings calls last year. It started on the first quarter call, when Musk cut off analysts and dismissed “bonehead questions.” Instead, he took multiple questions from an NYU grad student and retail investor named Gali Russell. Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas recalled it as “the most unusual call I have experienced in 20 years” on Wall Street.
For some on Wall Street though, the redesigns can be more of a distraction when trying to quickly sift through numbers. Mark Palmer of BTIG, who also covers Square, said he’s used to the new format now but he found it “somewhat challenging” to get to key information on the first go-around.
“For those who are unaccustomed to that, it can be challenging,” Palmer said. “From an analyst’s standpoint, we’re trying to get the the report itself and those testimonials do create some clutter.”