French companies provide history, now need to talk about the future
By Timmy Fredriksson
When ranking the corporate websites of the 75 largest companies in France against stakeholder demands, the results show that, on the whole, they underperform compared to their European counterparts. However, improvements have been made since last year. The bright spots are the press and reporting sections, while IR and shareholder information would benefit from attention.
The press section, one of the French companies’ stronger sections, has seen a slight increase in stakeholder fulfilment rates. However, with an average score of 51%, there’s room for growth if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd. Serving the content that stakeholders – primarily business journalists and jobseekers – want is important, since it helps companies own their message and brand in the media. In the age of fake news, this can provide a considerable boost to your corporate image.
Stakeholders want extensive historic press release archives
French companies scored an average of 76% for their press release archives. An impressive result, although lower than the European average of 89%.
Looking at the history of available press releases, the numbers show that there’s a gap between what these companies have in place and stakeholder demands: French companies’ fulfilment is 18% lower than the average for Europe. By providing a more extensive archive, and the possibility to filter and search these releases, you could quickly catch up to the European standard. Once the visitor finds the right press release, the process becomes easier: French press releases are, on average, more printer-friendly and easier to share on social media than their European counterparts.
The top French performer for this section is Vinci, with a stakeholder fulfilment score of 75%.
Pay attention to the IR and shareholder information sections
A common denominator for listed companies is the importance of the capital market as a stakeholder. The IR and shareholder information sections are a company’s best chance to cater to its needs but, unfortunately, French companies struggled with this in 2018. The average score for these sections was 19% for IR and 26% for shareholder information, with the latter actually scoring 5% lower than it did last year.
They main finding is that forward-looking statements are, for the most part, missing on French corporate websites. Content such as the short-term outlook (for the market and financials), megatrends analysis, and dividend targets is missing. Providing this information will help investors, both private and professional, with their assessment and build strong long-term relations with stakeholders.
Although French companies did not score highly across these two sections, two companies stood out from the crowd:
The top performer for IR in France was Michelin, with an average score of 55%. Airbus also showcased a strong shareholder information section, with a score of 76%.
Reporting is the star of the show
Reporting is one of the stronger sections for French companies, with the same average score as the press section – 51%. Going beyond that number, the section generally included annual and interim reports presented as PDFs, with strong functionality options, as well as financial presentations. French companies have also seen an increase in score when it comes to financial calendars, going from 35% last year to 46% in 2018.
For those who wish to go past the basics, consider making the jump from PDF to HTML. The annual report in particular is one of the most polished and fine-tuned pieces of information a listed company can create. Presenting it in this way would lay a foundation for satisfying stakeholders, as numbers and topics become searchable and can be viewed and analysed across multiple devices. An online annual report can also simplify upkeep, since making this information a permanent fixture of the website becomes easier when you’re working with HTML data.
Out of the ranked companies listed in France, the top performer in reporting was Arcelormittal, with an average score of 76%.
The top performers & fastest climbers
This year, Airbus earned 3rd place with a total score of 61.8 points, climbing from 8th place in 2015. The runner-up, climbing from 11th place last year, was Total, with a score of 62.6 points. And, for the third consecutive year, the winner of the French Webranking list was Vinci, with an excellent score of 73.1 points.
This year’s fastest ranking climber was Pernod Ricard, whose score jumped by a massive 35.3 points since last year primarily due to improving their sustainability information, ending with a total of 52.5 points.
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