I have encouraging news to report: Barriers to investor transparency are falling.
On Tuesday, I wrote about a public campaign to persuade healthcare companies to webcast their Q&A breakout sessions at next week's all-important J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Brad Loncar, the investor spearheading the shareholder-friendly cause, reported with some dismay that only 10% of the more than 300 publicly traded healthcare companies presenting at "JPM" had plans to webcast breakout sessions where executives field and answer questions from invited investors.
Following a week of awareness raising through phone calls, Twitter and a Loncar guest appearance on CNBC, the number of breakout session webcasts has increased significantly. Today, there are 55 biotech, drug and healthcare services companies planning to webcast both their primary investor presentations and the following breakout session. At the beginning of the week, that number was 31.
To their credit, the companies supporting increased investor transparency at the JPM conference did so enthusiastically. Many weren't aware that webcasting breakout sessions -- usually held in much smaller rooms at the conference hotel -- was even possible. When told about the option, they jumped at it.
Liberal webcasting policies allow all investors -- not just those lucky to snag an invite to the JPM conference -- to hear from the executives who run these healthcare companies. And webcasting both investor presentation and the Q&A breakout sessions doesn't minimize the importance of attending the JPM conference. Invited investors still have opportunities to meet with biotech and drug company CEOS and have their questions answered privately.
Looking ahead, Loncar hopes the investor transparency movement started this week will expand to other healthcare investor conferences. At some point, webcasting might be the norm and not the exception.
"We didn't just change the JPM conference, we changed investing. This is on peoples' minds now for the first time," said Loncar.
Let's hope so.
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.