Keep your friends close and your enemy closer. When it comes to investor relations, listed companies usually treat research analysts and media contacts like VIPs.
It is rare for companies not to treat ‘messengers’ well, or else it could generate bad publicity.
Take the case of Weichai Power, a Chinese supplier of diesel engines, which stunned analysts with a gesture equivalent to asking them to pay an entrance fee.
At a press conference, the leading Chinese powertrain producer asked those who want to take part in the briefing to buy a souvenir pack worth HK$388 ($US49.40) for the company’s 15th anniversary, according to Apple Daily.
This created a dilemma for the many analysts who attended. If they did not buy the gift would they be allowed to enter the venue and ask questions?
But about 200 analysts paid to attend the briefing – and got themselves a mobile charger with the company’s logo for its 15th anniversary, a Sandisk USB and a Sheaffer fountain pen.
However, reporters attending the subsequent session were given the gift pack for free.
Weichai on Tuesday posted a 27% jump in profit to 8.66 billion yuan (US$1.29 billion) on a turnover of 159 billion yuan for selling heavy truck engines and heavy-duty truck gearbox last year.
With such a strong result, analysts were left wondering why Weichai could not be more generous.
But analysts noted that the company is known for not treating its critics well. Some recalled that chairman Tan Xuguang told a Morgan Stanley analyst who put out a “sell report” last August over a conference call: “I think you did not get it right. I would fire you if I were your boss.”
So, the recent cover charge could be seen as a way to make analysts pay, as they don’t appear to be in the company’s book of favorites.