Last night I attended a Mello investor dinner organised by David Stredder. David has been investing in small caps on a full time basis for a number of years. He is hugely enthusiastic about small caps and incredibly knowledgeable. Mello is a monthly dinner for between 30 and 60 private investors with one or two companies presenting.
There were lots of interested private investors in the room and judging by the quality of questioning they were very knowledgeable. In fact the quality of the questions wouldn't have been out of place at an analyst meeting in the City. David admits that companies must be "on their game" at a Mello dinner as questioning can continue long after a typical 1 hour institutional meeting has wrapped up. However he always ensures the questioning is professional and doesn't overstep any regulatory or personal limits.
And what a good way to spend an evening. I saw a really interesting presentation from David Wolanski, the Australian finance director of Avation (http://www.avation.net/about.html). Avation owns and manages a fleet of aircraft that it leases to airlines like Virgin Australia and Thomas Cook.
David gave a very thorough overview of the company and the opportunities in front of them. Framing the opportunity is an essential hook by the company to all potential investors. For Avation the market continues to grow with leased planes accounting for 1 in 8 of all planes 20 years ago but now accounting for 1 in every 2 planes. There remains a huge opportunity for further growth in Avation's opinion.
The dinner took place at a restaurant in Beckenham. It's about 20 minutes from Victoria by train. In many ways this is a self selection tool. Despite being slightly out of the way from the more usual Central London venues, the Private Investors who are willing to make the effort are committed. After the presentation there was good opportunity to talk further about the company with management and with the other investors.
On reflection, Mello Events and other similar private investor forums should be considered by companies as part of their strategy to target knowledgeable, long term private investors.
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