So it appears that Google has incorporated a bit of crowdsourcing into their earnings calls:
Rather than take questions from analysts directly, Google has asked Wall Street’s finest to submit their questions through a service called Google Moderator, and is only responding to questions that receive the most votes from other analysts. The selected questions are then read out in a studious monotone by a moderator.
This is an interesting idea. I don’t know a ton about the evolution of the earnings call convention, but I can imagine such a process (like most conventions) has some built-in inefficiencies and Google Moderator may be one way to ensure that the most relevant questions are asked of executives. However, one part of the process seems highly inefficient:
There is no chance for analysts to put executives on the spot directly or – most importantly – ask follow-up questions when answers are less than complete.
In contrast, Intel bent over backwards to give analysts more time for thoughtful questions this week, by issuing its CFO’s prepared remarks before the conference call and reducing the usual scripted blather to give more time for questions and answers.
I can’t figure out what the point of trying to hone in on the best questions is if you are not going to provide ample opportunity for follow-up.