On the Internet: Webcasting
by CI Staff
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Webcasting & On-Line Conference Calls
The Internet has firmly entrenched itself as an invaluable source of financial data, company reports, real-time quotes, and breaking news. The corporate scandals of the past couple of years have pushed issues of full disclosure to centerstage. As companies strive to make as much information available as possible to investors, many are looking to the Web for a new avenue of information dissemination—on-line company conference calls and webcasts.
This article spotlights five Web sites that offer individual investors access to conference call schedules and the actual conference calls, as well as other important on-line company events—either via a telephone link or by using a media player installed on your computer.
The broadcasters serve as producers—they aid companies in putting the conference calls on the Internet and provide a portal for individual investors with the necessary audio capabilities to listen in. This is called webcasting or netcasting—the transmission of live or prerecorded audio or video to PCs connected to the Internet. The software that enables webcasting is referred to as a streaming media player. A certain level of technology is required to achieve streaming media and receive webcasting through your PC. Most PCs purchased within the last few years should have the necessary hardware and software, which include:
- An Internet connection, preferably high speed;
- A sound card;
- A media player, such as RealPlayer by RealNetworks (www.real.com) or Windows Media Player by Microsoft (www.microsoft.com), two of the most popular that are available as free downloads.
BestCalls.com describes itself as the Internets largest single source for conference call schedules and access information. In order to access BestCalls thousands of live and archived company conference calls, however, individuals pay $49.95 for a one-year subscription or $89.95 for a two-year subscription.
BestCalls conference call portfolio tracking system, CallTracker, keeps investors up-to-date with scheduled calls, allowing them to access the conference calls that interest them. Subscribers merely fill out a profile, entering their E-mail address and the stock symbols of the companies they wish to monitor, and then choosing a notification time anywhere from the day of the call to 30 days in advance. Call Tracker will then automatically alert subscribers via E-mail prior to the start of the conference call. A personalized CallTracker portfolio module is also available to all subscribers at the BestCalls home page. With CallTracker, subscribers can also purchase, manage,and print transcripts of company webcasts.
In addition to the conference call calendars and links, BestCalls also offers access to SEC filings via EDGAR Online, quotes, financial news and data, and earnings estimates from Reuters as well as access to fee-based research reports.
BestCalls resource center contains a glossary of terms frequently heard during conference calls and guides to listening to conference calls. Also offered are information on the BestCalls 50 Index, which is composed of the top 50 companies most popular with BestCalls.com users, and a breakdown of the most popular calls by industry.
BusinessWeek Online provides free listings of corporate events—webcasts, earnings releases, and presentations—provided by CCBN. Using the sites stock lookup feature, you first enter a ticker symbol. At the corporate snapshot page, select the events calendar link at the left side of the page. You are then taken to the listings of events for that company. From here, you can access the latest webcast when it occurs or listen to archived webcasts going back roughly one year.
The FullDisclosure Web site, which is presented by CCBN Street Events (part of Thomson Financial), is a free site for individual investors that is essentially a calendar of company webcasts, earnings announcements, conferences, stock splits, IPOs, economic events and dividends.
The home page lists highlighted webcasts, earnings releases, conferences, stock splits, dividends, and economic events. There are also links for each of these event types that will take you to a complete listing of the specific events for the day. Users have the ability to search for events going backward and forward three months.
By clicking on an individual company, you are taken to a complete listing of events pertaining to the company for roughly the past four years. Depending on the company, there may be archived calls and events going back a year. Printed transcripts are available for purchase and download.
The enhanced company directory contains separate listings for company snapshots, press releases, financial reports, webcasts, and analyst presentations.
PR Newswire is probably best known as a disseminator of press releases and a business newswire resource. However, it also offers individual investors free access to company conference calls and other media events at its Web site. On-line copies of corporate releases are, as may be expected, also available.
By clicking on the Multimedia News at on the News & Information home page, visitors are given listings of the days video and audio events, as well as press releases and slide shows. Visitors may also browse events by date or industry. The archive of past events spans two years.
Vcall is an on-line conference call center providing earnings session information on the Web for individual investors. Vcall webcasts offer live and archived streaming audio and video webcasts of official investor relations events, including quarterly earnings conference calls, analyst conferences, annual shareholder meetings, merger announcements, product announcements and press conferences.
Vcall also allows investor access to leading investment conferences. This coverage includes institutional conferences hosted by investment banks and brokerages; virtual investor conferences, available exclusively over the Internet; and on-location webcasts of conferences.
Visitors can browse Vcall by date or look for recent or upcoming events. Each section lists company name, date and time of the event, and the type of event. You can also search for company events by ticker. Clicking on an individual company will take you to a page with a link through which you can opt to receive up to three E-mailed reminders of the companys event. Alerts can be received from one day to eight weeks prior to the event.