Listening to Your Heart!


Trying to predict stock price movements is necessary, of course. After all, when stock prices fall, the cost of borrowing and of issuing new equity can rise, and falling stock prices can both undercut the confidence of employees and customers and handicap mergers. Unfortunately, however, most of these predictions are no more than rough guesses, because the tools CEOs use to make them are not very accurate. Net present value (NPV) may be useful for estimating the long-term intrinsic value of shares, but it is famously unreliable for predicting their price over the next few quarters. Conversations with sample groups of investors and analysts, conducted by the company or by investment bankers, are no more reliable for gauging market reactions.

But executives can dramatically improve the accuracy of their predictions. By adopting a more systematic, rigorous approach, corporate leaders can learn to understand individual investors as thoroughly as many companies now understand each of their top commercial customers. It is possible to know such customers well because there are only so many of them. Equally, only a finite number of investors really matter when it comes to predicting stock price movements.

Every CEO knows that when buyers are more anxious to buy than sellers are to sell, share prices riseand that they fall when the reverse happens. But fewer CEOs know that not every buyer or seller matters in this equation. Our research on the changing stock prices of more than 50 large US and European listed companies over two years1 makes it clear that a maximum of only 100 current and potential investors significantly influence the share prices of most large companies. By identifying these critical individual investors and understanding what motivates them, executives can predict how they will react to announcementsand more accurately estimate the direction of stock prices.

Armed with these new and solid insights about how critical investors behave in specific situations, executives can make strategic decisions in a different light. Knowing what makes crucial investors buy, sell, or hold the company's stock allows CEOs to calculate what its share price might be after an announcement and to factor this calculation into their strategic and operating decisions. To head off short-term selling, a company could manage the timing, pace, or sequencing of strategic announcements. It could introduce a new management team before announcing an acquisition. It could also test an important new product in selected markets before the nationwide rollout. How will investors react to a merger announcement and what will the resulting share price mean for a deal? How might a spin-off fare in the market? Does the company need to prepare the market or to consider a carve-out instead?

A CEO even has the choice of forging ahead in the face of adverse predictions, using the information to manage the expectations of the board. An executive may, for instance, consider bold strategies even though they could push some critical investors to sell the company's stock.

The few that matter

It should come as no surprise that big trades can significantly move the needle on a company's stock price. When the Bass family of Texas, for example, sold its stake in Disney, in September 2001, in response to a margin call, Disney's stock fell by 8 percent.

But typically, short-term changes in a company's stock price aren't the result of a single big trade. For the 50 companies whose quarterly stock price variations we studied, we consistently found that the majority of unique changes in each company's stock price resulted from the net purchases and sales of the stock by a limited number of investors who traded in large quantities. (By "unique changes," we mean those occurring relative to the rest of the market. In other words, they do not include price bumps or falls that coincided with the overall movements of the market or the sector.)

Although the number of crucial investors in a company ranged from as few as 30 to (more typically) as many as 100, in each case this set of actors had a dramatic impact on share prices. In the companies we studied, we could attribute from 60 to 80 percent of all unique changes, quarter by quarter, to the net trading imbalances of these investors.

Industrial marketing for investors

Few companies today get to know their top investors well enough to predict with any accuracy what will make those investors buy or sell more of their shares. The CFO of a large financial company, which was about to announce the divestiture of a major division, believed that he was "right on top of [our] investor base." Indeed, in a general way, the company's executives knew the big investors wellwhat they thought of management, the creditworthiness of the company, and so on. But executives didn't know what investors thought about specific potential strategies, such as a divestiture. Was the offer price that executives were considering above or below the value investors attributed to the unit when those investors calculated the company's total value? Or did investors think that the company benefited from cross-divisional synergies that would end with the divestiture?

To develop the ability to make predictions about shareholders, companies should identify their stock price movers and calculate how many additional shares would be offered or sought in reaction to specific announcements. Through background analysis and interviews, the companies must then analyze in depth the trading behavior of these movers, developing trading profiles for each of them. Finally, companies should use the information in the profiles to predict which movers would be likely to react to specific corporate announcements by selling or buying in the short term and then calculate what this would mean for share prices.4

Getting to know investors isn't a one-shot process. Companies must continually reexamine who is moving their sharesinvestors come and go. An ongoing dialogue with the movers deepens the knowledge of these companies and, over time, sharpens their ability to predict the actions of their critical investors. However, most companies will need to beef up their investor relations capabilities to get the job done. The good news: getting started isn't a mammoth task. Two to three months should be enough to develop an initial set of profiles of the most important investors.

Identify the critical investors

A company should begin its assessment by asking who has the potential to move its stock price. Some of the movers could be among the company's largest current shareholders. Some may be smaller holders who want to increase their ownership. And some are potential large players who do not yet own any of the company's stock but could purchase or short it in large quantities. What do these movers have in common? They are active stock-portfolio managers who regularly buy and sell large quantities of shares in the company or in similar companiestypically, managers of mutual, pension, or hedge funds or even individual large investors.

In other words, investors who count have both weight and a propensity to throw it around. Although the actual calculations needed to put together the list of movers are complicatedrequiring more discussion than we can present in this articlea likely mover is someone who does or could reasonably account for at least 1 percent of a stock's trading volume for one quarter.

Movers are not necessarily a company's largest investors. Shareholders (such as family holdings or trusts) that have owned big blocks of the company's stock for a long time don't move it quarter to quarter. Neither do index funds unless the company is added to or dropped from an important index (or unless the fund's assets change dramatically). Among the largest 20 investors of one big pharmaceuticals company we studied, only 10 were movers, and this proved to be typical of the companies we studied. What is more, nearly half of the large movers of the stock of the pharmaceuticals company over eight quarters from 1999 to 2001 weren't listed among its 20 largest investors during any single quarter.

Moreover, companies should add potential investors to the list of movers. For a large chemical business in our study, we analyzed the way the positions of investors in other chemical businesses changed over time. One investor, a $22 billion investment fund, had been an active trader in other, similar chemical companies and liked to buy assets at the bottom of a cycle. At the time, the sector was depressed, so for this and other reasons we added the investor to the company's list of movers. A few months later, the investor purchased more than five million of the company's shares.

Potential movers include those who have made money investing in other industries in similar circumstances. Investors who bet on the right players in an industry that consolidated, for example, may now be eyeing investments in other sectors on the verge of consolidation. Potential movers may also be investors who purchased shares in a company's upstream or downstream suppliers and have a history of investing more broadly in the value chain. Some may have a taste for betting on companies that use certain capital models (high cash flow, say, or high leverage), have new CEOs, or face particular market changes or competitive conditions.

To determine how many investors should go on the list40? 70? 100? A company should test the accuracy of its predictions over previous quarters to arrive at the number that works best. Too few will yield poor correlations between activity and stock prices; too many will add to the cost and complexity of the process. In addition, the list changes frequently. Our experience suggests that a mover typically stays on such lists for six quarterslong enough to give the company time to become familiar with it but short enough so that there will always be new movers to study.

Moving the movers

Once a company has identified its movers, the next step is to develop thorough profiles of all of them. Companies begin by conducting an "outside-in" analysis of each one, including its stated investment criteria and objectives and its trading patterns. Discussions with every investor give a company a chance to fill in the gaps in its understanding of its movers and to confirm its hypotheses about what they trade and why.

The resulting profile should first describe how an investor makes decisions. What does the investor want to invest in, using what valuation methodologies? How is it likely to react to events or to data, which after all can be interpreted in many ways? Are its investments subject to any constraints, such as their size and frequency? Second, the profile should describe each investor's views on issues that the company might facesuch as any new strategies (for instance, whether the company should go into China), earnings surprises, and changes in management.

To get this kind of information, companies must phrase the questions carefully in view of a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation that prohibits companies from disclosing material information to some but not all investors.5 Typically, indirect questions work best. A company might ask investors why they purchased or sold their holdings in a particular business, for instance. But the company would actually be trying to understand why they sold their holdings after the business announced, for example, that it was investing in China. Do the investors dislike the risks that are associated with China, distrust the management team put in place to manage expansion in Asia, or reject specific details of the disclosed plan?

Making predictions

With the movers identified and profiled, the investor relations staff and executives can make reasonable judgments about who will sell, buy, and hold. This process isn't merely a mathematical exercise, though it does involve many calculations.

Besides assessing whether each investor will approve or disapprove of a given announcement, executives must estimate how many shares the investor is likely to buy or sell. They can be guided in these estimates by such details as the average trade the investor makes and whether the investor historically "bleeds" (buys and sells incrementally over time) or "blasts" (buys and sells quickly and in large blocks).

Although the process itself is straightforward, making these predictions can be quite complex. Nonetheless, several companies we have worked with have done the necessary calculations and used the information to guide their strategic decisions. One company, recognizing that it would take a hit, decided that it could do little about this except to prepare and manage its board. (In this case, estimates of what would happen to the stock price were extraordinarily accurate.) Another company decided to postpone a restructuring when it realized how far its stock price was likely to fall. In a third case, two companies were about to announce that they were merging. But the estimated dip in the acquirer's stock price after the announcement could have affected the deal (an equity and cash buy), so executives at the two companies used the profiles to identify investors who should be reached immediately and individually. Profiling also helped the companies tailor their communications to those investors.

Even if no immediate decisions are pending, a company should try to predict probable moves by investors on a quarterly basis if not more often. Accuracy improves with practice.

Building the capabilities

Companies that choose to adopt an industrial-marketing approach to investor relations will need to make at least two key changes. The first is to stop viewing the market as a monolithic entity that is judging a company's performance in an adversarial way. When the company's stock price changes, executives shouldn't ask why the market moved; they should pinpoint who bought, who sold, and why. In fact, managers should view investors much as managers in private companies view their corporate ownersand understand them just as well.

Have you ever found yourself in a tussle between heart and brain? It happens when your heart wants to go in one direction and your brain to another. This happens, not only once but several times, whether is a case of expressing your love, whether is a case of selecting or rejecting a candidate, whether it is to accept or reject a proposal, you name it and there are several occasions, where you heart want to do something and your brain another thing.

If you listen to your heart, you know what brings you joy, peace, beauty, and love. So why wouldn't we want to do this? Most of us have been taught to distrust our heart. Our heart will lead us astray we have been told, and cause us pain. It is our mind, teachers have told us that must be developed and followed. Much of what we have been taught can be attributed to the patriarchal philosophy that has dominated our world thinking for the past 2000 years. The masculine orientation, historically, has honored intellect over emotions, observation and measurement, through use of our five senses, over intuition and knowing.

To listen to your heart, you need to be a good listener.

When you find yourself engaged in an activity that allows your head to take a break, and the experience brings you a sense of joy and passion like you haven't experienced in years, that's your heart speaking to you. For example, you travel someplace that causes you to slow down, breathe and immerse yourself in the beauty of a region and suddenly you feel alive. Or you participate in a hobby or new activity and find that you love the experience, losing all track of time. The experience itself is uplifting and you feel happiness and more energy. That's your heart calling you.

When your heart calls you to bring more passion and joy into your life, you have a couple of choices:

1. Ignore it and keep on living like you're living

2. Move to a monastery3. Get some awareness and clarity about what it is you really want in your lifeand then take action and get support to live the life of your dreams.

Who is right, the heart or the brain???

Your heart speaks in metaphors, analogies and images of possibilitythe possibility of you stepping into your full potential and becoming who you are meant to be. Your head tries to find reasons and rationale to make that picture a reality, and as it tries to figure out how to "solve this challenge", inevitably fears, limitations and doubts surface within its borders. Your head is not against your heart -- it's simply trying to protect you from getting hurt and it's doing its job by going through a logical, rational thought process.

When you allow your head to see the essence of the vision of what your heart is sharing with you, and you begin to believe that it's possible to make it happen, your head begins to partner with your heart and looks for ways to make the dream a reality. The simple act of believing and trusting is the bridge between your head and heart.

When it is a time to listen to your heart?

It's a very individual process and will be different for each person. However, two things awakened us:

1) The pain of where we were became greater than the fear of change

2) The signs and signals around us could no longer be ignored (a multitude of coincidences that pointed us to Hawaii, contacting our real estate agent to begin exploring possibilities and ending up with an offer at a ridiculously high profit within 4 hours of the call, etc.)

When we allowed our heads to believe that what our hearts were telling us could be real, and we felt supported enough in that belief, then we could cross the bridge of possibility to transform our lives. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision that there is something more important than fear. Why people are so afraid to listen to heart?

Fears that surface when following your heart can be around

- "What will others think?"
- "How will we succeed?"
- "How will we prosper?"
- "This is not logical/rational/practical"
- etc

Yet anything you fear losingmoney, status/position, reputation, etc.is simply coming from the ego and from the need for symbols of external power. What we really fear when any of us follow our hearts is an increase in our vulnerability, because the kind of power we are embracing is INTERNAL, and not normally recognized in the outside world.

But the way of fear and doubt is a powerless dead end. The reality is that you have all the power you need at your disposal all the time, if you only recognize it and use it. The power is within you.

You cannot gain more personal power by refusing to recognize your fears, by anesthetizing yourself to what you feel. The road to authentic power is always through what you feel, through your heart. In the heart, we experience emotions. Emotions reflect intentions. Therefore, an awareness of your emotions leads to awareness of intentions and when you choose to create with the intentions of belief, trust, love and clarity, you gain personal power. When you align your thoughts, emotions and actions with the highest parts of yourself, you are filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning.

Conclusion

My heart always spoke to me and captured my attention helping me to follow my life's journey. This was often at the disappointment of my family and friends who wanted me to be more rational. The intellect must be used to inform us of our physical world's teachings and information, but it is our heart that must guide us, integrating the energy of our soul as superior to that of our personality/intellect. Our heart heals us and keeps us in communion with energy of our soul. The heart is also our barometer for helping us know what is important to us from an emotional and spiritual perspective. If we do not listen to our heart, we deny ourselves valuable feedback and guidance.

From an energetic perspective, the heart is the center of the human energy system. It has wisdom; it is the energetic center of love, and knowing. How tragic, that our society has taught us to distrust the callings of our heart. We often work when we need to rest, eat when we are not hungry, and laugh when we want to cry, remain angry when we need to forgive. It is our intellect that drives us to prove ourselves when our heart may be broken, feels rejected or unworthy. The intellect/personality knows only fear and lack.

The heart is love. If we listened to our heart, our world and ourselves would be much different. We are all so afraid, and all so much the same. We are often afraid to trust, or believe in goodness and mercy, love and light, peace, joy and healing. In truth, this is why we have come to earth to overcome all fear and sense of lack in order that our soul could have that experience of overcoming. The physical body is the vehicle of experience. The third dimension or our physical world is the only dimension in which this can occur. If we suppress our heart's wisdom, we drive ourselves beyond our limits, often injuring our physical bodies and our mental and emotional well being. We fail to forgive, and nurture and honor ourselves. We fail to live with an open heart.

Second, companies will need to overhaul their investor relations units. In the vast majority of companies today, the investor relations function is largely administrative: it oversees the production, but not always the content, of regulatory and annual reports; it administers the registry of shareholders and sets up investor road shows, visits by analysts, and conferences; and it talks to shareholderswhen they call.

Instead, the investor relations unit will have to take on a more strategic role, almost as an adjunct to strategic planning. It will be responsible for managing the key-account process to identify movers and understand their behavior. Its staff will have to test all major plans and announcements for their effect on the price of the company's shares and suggest modifications to those plans to bring them into better alignment with the views of key shareholders. Indeed, for the first time, the investor relations unit will become an important adviser to the CEO.

But this approach calls for investor relations leaders who can stand up to the CEO and deliver bad news when necessary. They will also have to be capable of handling tough interviews with investors who are pressing them for information they cannot divulge under SEC regulations or for competitive reasons. Sharp, independent, and analytical investor relations directors may emerge from the ranks of business development, strategic planning, or even, in some instances, internal auditing.

Have a great time and pleaseee?Pleaseee?do take care of your good self.

Looking forward to your feedback.

With lots of Love and care

Sanjeev Sharma
(Pune-India)
(+91-9890788259 or 9850884378)


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