Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Archie Black and Matt Pfau visited the AIM program on Friday, September 1st

Marquette AIM students given the special opportunity to interview a CEO

Note: The guests of the AIM program – and the students – are mindful of SEC regulations and rules regarding disclosure. Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) prohibits companies from selectively disclosing material nonpublic information to analysts, institutional investors, and others without concurrently making widespread public disclosure. We believe that no violation of Reg FD occurred our meeting with the classroom guests.

Archie Black, David Krause and Brent Adams
On Friday, September 1, 2017, the AIM students in both the junior and senior classes were pleased to welcome Archie Black, CEO of SPS Commerce (ticker: SPSC) and Matt Pfau, Analyst at William Blair

The opportunity to interview senior management is an important piece of the fundamental investment analysis process.

The AIM students were careful to do their homework of SPS Commerce (a cloud-based supply chain service company located in Minnesota) before class. They realized that it is important to not waste the time of the management – as well as to ask meaningful questions. 
Matt Pfau and Archie Black

In advance of class the students read annual and quarterly SEC filings, recent press releases, sell-side reports and any statements that the management has already made. Dr. David Krause, AIM director, emphasized that students should avoid asking any questions that they could get the answer to from other sources.

The AIM students in the Class of 2018 began with general questions about SPS Commerce and the current state of the retail industry. Obviously, considerable time was given to e-commerce trends and the dominance of Amazon. Interestingly, only 10% of US retail sales are processed via e-commerce; however, the rate of change continues to be substantial.

Bill Walker and Matt Pfau
A student asked a general question about competitors and changing technology – which resulted in useful background information about the current state of the industry. Mr. Black was an excellent public speaker and offered the students useful advice about how
ask better questions. Matt Pfau of William Blair also offered interesting observations and comments during the course of the class.

After class one of the AIM students commented, “I now have a better understanding of the importance of having a face-to-face interview with management. It was obvious at times that Mr. Black via his "body language" was making an especially crucial point.” 

The student also commented that he found himself listening most of the time and wished he had taken better notes – an essential element of the management interview. Dr. Krause concluded, "The visit by Archie Black and Matt Pfau was a success - I know the students gained a much greater understanding of the importance of learning more about management in the investment research process. We are thankful they could visit Marquette's AIM program."