As we discussed in an earlier blog post (see here) we place a high premium on direct contact with management while researching potential investments, and also as part of our ongoing work on current holdings. This was the case in a pre-pandemic world, and remains the case today, despite the ongoing COVID-19 challenges. In a “normal” year, it is typical for us to have hundreds of meetings, calls, and other forms of communication with management teams. Through this contact, we feel we can gain critical insights into leadership’s view on things such as: capital management, the current M&A environment, and various other strategy-oriented topics.
While we all are adapting to the current unprecedented times, and have had to adjust how we go about things, one adjustment that has actually worked to our benefit is the ability to have more contact with management given the rapid adoption of technologies like Zoom, WebEx and the like. Whereas it was common for one or two of our portfolio managers and/or analysts to travel to an industry conference to have a handful of one-on-one meetings, we now have the ability to accomplish the same much more efficiently (no travel time), and have more of the research team attend the meeting. The same is also true for company management - we often are able to talk to more than one of the executive team members at once even if they are in separate parts of the country. This increased efficiency has allowed us to work through investment ideas much more quickly, which has been even more important in this rapidly changing environment.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously created many challenges for all of us – too many to list. However, one positive that has come out of this “new world” is the ability to remotely “meet” management teams and, as a result, more quickly come to a conclusion on investment ideas as a team. This has had a positive impact on our investment process. See…2020 isn’t all bad!