"Even though we have much more work to do in achieving gender parity on corporate boards, I'm encouraged that so many have identified board service as a professional goal and that resources are available to facilitate their success," said Margaret Whelan, founder and CEO of Whelan Advisory, LLC, and TopBuild board director. "It takes more time and effort than most candidates realize, but staying determined and focused ultimately leads to triumph."Read More
I was delighted to be in included in this important webinar, hosted by Directors & Boards:
Directors Margaret Whelan and Phyllis J. Campbell, WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation CEO Susan Stautberg, and Dottie Schlindlinger, executive vice president and governance expert at Diligent Corporation, explored ten key pivots boards must make in 2017 in order to successfully guide the companies in their care.
The replay can be accessed here:
Nice coverage for our client Smith Douglas Homes this week
The Big Bet
“Smith Douglas Homes is a fast-growth, profitable company and they’re taking a proven, scalable and well-defined business model with a focus on cost and capital efficiency to target high-growth markets including Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville,” says Margaret Whelan, principal at Whelan Advisory, LLC, an advisor to Smith Douglas. “Leveraging established relationships to access attractive land, industry expertise to reduce risk and a seasoned management team to achieve profitable growth. It’s an unusual story, and one investors should look at.”
Whelan's "advice" boils down to a three-stage process for a builder like Smith Douglas: preparation, presentation, and pricing. What makes the narrative and the validation make sense to the types of institutional investment decision-makers is a business whose business plan, market opportunity, and track record add up to what comes across in an attention-deficit environment as a "unique" opportunity. Smith Douglas fits that bill
Smart money is on home builder growth for the foreseeable future. Find out why by reading my latest article for BUILDER magazine.
This year’s spring selling season is off to a strong start, with price and pace improving almost universally across markets, product types and price points. The momentum is encouraging, as it marks the third year of this housing recovery, after a couple of false starts, and feels sustainable this time despite mortgage rates that are moving higher. Most industry observers have revised their forecasts upwards, and believe this cycle is still in its first half. They are forecasting at least three more years of unit growth as millennial buyers have finally emerged and are contributing to demand, and further pricing power is expected on a national basis.
As often happens, the home builder stocks anticipated the recovery, up 30+% since early November, while valuations are still reasonable relative to historical norms.Read More
KBW stock analyst Jade Rahmani hosted an interesting and well attended industry update for investors, I appreciated the opportunity to participate. Details below:
"Today we met with national homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV), single-family rental company Progress Residential (private), and industry expert Margaret Whelan (Founder and CEO, Whelan Advisory).
Takeaways. Our meeting struck a mostly positive tone toward the near- to medium-term housing outlook driven by: steady demand growth (including Spring sales/leasing) and favorable demographics, partly offset by labor and land supply/pricing as constraints. Participants cited homebuilding M&A as "fervent" including acquisition demand from Asian buyers. Finally, while acknowledging longer-term risks/uncertainties around rates, inflation, and administration policy, participants characterized demand for new homes and single-family rentals as strong/increasing.
Bottom Line. We believe recent housing trends remain positive, suggesting a likely strong Spring sales and leasing season. We have Outperform ratings on DHI, LEN, and SFR."
Many thanks to NYSE Governance Services for including my perspective in their 14th annual Director survey, What Directors Think, Shifting Gears in 2017
“The easiest way to manage the responsibility and risks we assume is to employ the right board of directors” said Margaret Whelan, a member of the audit, compensation, and governance and nominating committees at TopBuild. “Activists are successful in gaining at least one board seat in 80% of their campaigns,” she continues, “so evaluate and refresh your board regularly, and enforce age and term limits to allow new energy into the boardroom.”
Whelan, the TopBuild director, is also an investment banker and works on all sides of the table with activists. She believes board members can fight off activism by being their own activists and evaluating each other at least once a year, calling peers out if they’re not showing up. “As directors, the buck stops with us,” she affirms, “We have the ultimate responsibility to all stakeholders. We can’t afford to be passive in an environment where there is so much uncertainty. Whelan believes directors stand to gain from engaging with activists and listening to the advice some of the investors with a longer term focus have to dispense.
Margaret’s keys to success:
- Develop relevant skills and attributes that do more than show you are qualified for a board position, but that really set you apart as an exceptional candidate.
- Strong relationships, built on trust, expertise, and shared experience, in your professional career will continue to serve you well in your career as a corporate board director.
- Be patient and persistent in your journey to the boardroom, and be prepared to invest the requisite time, energy and budget in marketing yourself for that role.
I appreciated to opportunity to speak on a panel at Lincoln International and L.E.K.'s annual Building & Infrastructure Conference again this year. The conference was well attended and the tone was upbeat as the industry recovery is well underway.
Robert Rourke, Managing Director at L.E.K. was the moderator, and our panel focused on Growth Priorities and Challenges.
Key takeaways included:
- Those who invested wisely in the downturn are being rewarded
- Crucial to know your company's value chain
- Understand your unique position with customers, end users and distributors
- Identify and capitalize on the drivers
- Customer feedback can direct you to new adjacent markets; markets must be developer as part of a broader organizational strategy
- Profit expansion is expected across many sectors as additional volume provides operating leverage, and suppliers experience improving pricing power
I was fortunate to attend the Equilar Board Leadership Forum, an event co-hosted with Nasdaq at the MarketSite in New York City. The Forum featured eight fast-paced presentations and panels focused on creating progressive boards.
The main theme was around better leadership and oversight, in particular in the wake of more shareholder engagement and activism. Over 100 directors attended, some were professional directors on five-plus U.S. and international boards, and the group even included a retired CEO who has served on more than 20 boards. Also in attendance were C-suite professionals who work on behalf of their boards, and in some cases also serve as independent directors on other boards. I found it refreshing to see so many general counsels in the room, which was likely a function of the pervasive theme around risk management overall.Read More