Dialoguing with society: Ajinomoto Group IR
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The Ajinomoto Group has spent over a century exploring ways to leverage “AminoScience*” not only in the seasonings, foods and frozen foods business, but also in developing electronic materials, health care and more. We’ve put down deep roots in Japan and around the world.
One of the key drivers of this growth has been a robust capacity to communicate our strengths to the world. The Ajinomoto Group’s Investor Relations is focused on creating strategies to enhance the communication of the Group’s value. We spoke with Miho U., Yuka G., and Yuna B. of the IR Group at Ajinomoto Co., Inc. Coming from various backgrounds inside and outside the company, the IR team members are leveraging their individual talents, working closely with various departments and affiliates in an open and mutually supportive atmosphere, moving forward the dialogue that is key to communicating and enhancing corporate value.
Understand the needs of investors globally
In dialogue with institutional and individual investors as well as analysts, IR aims to deepen the organization’s understanding of market needs while conveying the information investors need to make decisions. We aim to communicate in a fair and unbiased manner.
Yuka: “It is important to us to understand the true interests of investors. Based on that understanding, we strive to present a clear story of Ajinomoto Group value creation.”
Yuka: “To give investors more of a sense of what’s happening on the ground, we’re inviting employees in various countries to create short, informal smartphone-based videos describing local initiatives and publishing these videos monthly as IR Topics.”
Yuna: “We use simultaneous interpreting at IR events and online bilingual information releases to deliver information globally in order to ensure transparency and fairness.”
Messaging for the entire Ajinomoto Group
IR works closely with divisions throughout the organization, including Food Products, AminoScience, Sustainability and Global Communications. Everyone works together to reaffirm the Ajinomoto Group’s values so that we can communicate with one voice the direction we are aiming for as a Group.
Miho: “There are just so many hidden treasures in this organization. We get to help tell the story of our organization’s growth in collaboration with colleagues across the Group.”
Getting out the message as a team
To close the gap between the value of the company and its evaluation by capital markets, we conduct a wide range of initiatives including virtual factory tours and business briefing sessions. We work to show the connection between financial and non-financial issues and disclose content in line with market expectations.
Yuka: “At our 2022 online session for individual investors, we experimented with having young leaders of new projects take the stage beside our CEO and speak directly to investors.”
Investor Relations presents not only on traditional Ajinomoto Group endeavors like seasonings and foods, but also new businesses like the collaboration with Base Food Inc., which won a Nikkei Superior Products and Services Award, and many other new ventures of particular interest to Generation Z.
Yuna: “Event attendees have commented that we’re ‘surprisingly open, and led by young, proactive people.’”
Miho: “All IR team members, regardless of age or seniority, are offered a chance to help direct our public-facing dialogue.”
A positive feedback cycle
We’re very open to constructive criticism about our management practices that arises from our dialogue with investors and work to share feedback with management. It’s a cycle that leads to positive results.
Miho: “Our CEO is attuned to what investors are saying and how the organization is perceived.”
The Ajinomoto Group IR team believes in turning challenges into results and sets quantitative targets such as Total Shareholder Return. External recognition received includes the Japan Investor Relations Association’s Best IR Award 2022 and the 2022 Award for Excellence in Corporate Disclosure in Foods, and for Disclosure to Individual Investors of the Securities Analysts Association of Japan. The whole team is working hard every day to enhance the Group’s corporate value.
Cross-fertilizing to harvest new ideas
The Ajinomoto Group IR team is highly proactive in communicating with other organizations, including government ministries and graduate schools, and in exchanging information with IR teams from other companies.
Yuna: “We have a lot to learn from our counterparts in other organizations, so we’re proactive in exchanging information and learning from other IR professionals. Together we can help enhance interest in our markets and generate economic stimulation, so it’s a win-win.”
IR going forward
The range and nature of the disclosure demanded by investors is changing rapidly, and we need to continue to stay ahead of the curve. We will continue to strive to provide easy-to-understand and unbiased information that investors and analysts can relate to, and to enhance corporate value.
As each member of the team grows, we will work to strengthen IR Ajinomoto Group initiatives and grow as a global company from Japan.