BOSTON (TheStreet) -- An embarrassingly small number of healthcare companies are webcasting their Q&A breakout sessions at next week's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, proving once again that some antiquated barriers to investor transparency remain stubbornly difficult to tear down.
Every January, the healthcare universe descends on San Francisco to meet, greet, network and make deals. At the center of this incredible hub of activity is the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, where more than 300 publicly traded healthcare companies pitch their stories to institutional investors.
"JPM" is the biggest and most important healthcare investment conference held every year, so why do presenting companies cut off access for shareholders not lucky enough to snag an invite?
"You would think it would be in a company's best interest to webcast these presentations, because not doing so is otherwise disrespectful to all of their other shareholders who aren't in the room," says private investor Brad Loncar.
According to Loncar's count, approximately two-thirds of the publicly traded companies participating at JPM this year are offering webcasts of their primary investor presentations -- a respectable number but one that should still be higher.
But only 10% of presenting companies are planning to webcast their Q&A breakout sessions. These are smaller and more interesting gatherings held right after the main presentation, where company executives field and answer questions from investors.
JPM conference breakout sessions are often where real news happens -- causing stocks to move -- because executives sometimes go off script and answer questions about issues or concerns they may otherwise not bring up on their own.
"With the way technology has made it so easy to broadcast breakout sessions, I personally think it is a Reg FD issue. I can think of no reasonable excuse for not choosing to do it," says Loncar.
Technology and cost are not reasons for why so few companies are webcasting breakout sessions at JPM this year. Every presentation room at the conference hotel is wired for webcasts. The service provider handling webcasting duties for J.P. Morgan charges companies $1,000 to webcast their primary investor presentation and another $1,000 for the breakout session.
It's not too late for companies to choose to do the right thing by webcasting both their investor presentations and the follow-on Q&A breakout sessions at this year's JPM conference. Loncar has been working his phone, calling companies and urging them to be more transparent for all investors, and not just those attending the conference in person.
Maybe some public shaming will help. Here's a list of healthcare companies NOT webcasting their JPM breakout sessions:
Agios Pharma (AGIO) - Get Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report , Bluebird Bio (BLUE) - Get bluebird bio, Inc. Report , Seattle Genetics (SGEN) - Get Seagen, Inc. (SGEN) Report , MannKind (MNKD) - Get MannKind Corporation Report , Alexion Pharma (ALXN) - Get Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report , Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) - Get Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Report , Vertex PharmaVRTX, Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report , Isis Pharma (ISIS) , Merck (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report, Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and Shire (SHPG) - Get Shire PLC Sponsored ADR Report .
C'mon, guys. Make the call. Write the $1,000 check. Do your part to make JPM more investor friendly.
With Express Scripts (ESRX) being so aggressive against sky-high drug prices, you'd think the pharmacy benefit manager would want to spread its message far and wide. You'd be wrong. The company is not webcasting its JPM breakout session. Neither are rival PBMs CVS Health (CVS) - Get CVS Health Corporation Report or Catamaran (CTRX) . Wrong!
That's the naughty list, here are some noteworthy "nice" companies with plans to webcast breakouts: Celgene (CELG) - Get Celgene Corporation Report , Amgen (AMGN) - Get Amgen Inc. Report and Biogen Idec (BIIB) - Get Biogen Inc. Report . Thank you! There should be more on this list.
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;
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