The Swedish annual report miracle
I am of course delighted to find Sweden at the top in various ranking tables. It is not without nostalgia I remember the 80s when Swedish tennis players where all over the ATP ranking, for a long period with an average of about a dozen players on the top 100 list. The so-called Swedish tennis miracle was fantastic, but obviously not sustainable. Since then it has also returned to normal and currently we have one top 100 player, which in itself is amazing.
Nowadays Sweden dominates other lists
Each year a number of “beauty contests”, on a local as well as a global scale, assesses the quality of this year’s crop of annual reports. One of the most renowned on a global basis is the ”Annual Report on Annual Reports” produced by e.com Report Watch. Recently they published their annual ranking for 2010 that crowned the world’s 300 ”best” annual reports.
Swedish companies stand out and are once again extremely successful. Out of the top twenty contributions six came from Sweden (up from five last year), while Germany had two, UK had one and the U.S. wasn’t represented by a single company. Of the top one hundred reports Sweden contributed 20, up from 18 a year ago, as many as Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States put together.
Country breakdown among the top 100:
United Kingdom 9
South Africa 2
Hong Kong 1
What conclusions can be drawn from this?
Either Swedish companies spend disproportionately large sums or companies in other markets have not understood the value of an expensive, full and lavish annual report.
A sympathetic interpretation would point to a combination of the two, but in the same way as the Swedish tennis miracle in the 80’s was partly a function of large resources, the same probably goes for the Swedish annual report miracle.
To dominate these kinds of lists going forward, Swedish companies can continue to spend nearly half the IR budget on the annual report. If we instead see a greater potential to reach out to the investing community through the ”new” channels such as the IR web or through social media maybe a reallocation of resources should be considered.
Even though it is nice to see Sweden in many top rankings, the annual report makes out a diminishing part of the optimal IR-mix, and if you don’t have unlimited resources, one should perhaps not bet everything on one card. Or what do you think?