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DEFINITION of 'Dog And Pony Show'

A colloquial term that generally refers to a presentation or seminar to market new products or services to potential buyers. A dog and pony show, in the financial context, refers to presentations to institutional and retail investors by executives of a company that is issuing securities as an initial public offering or on a secondary basis. It also means presentations by financial institutions to pitch a new product or service. The term is believed to have originated in the late 19th century to describe traveling circuses that featured performing dogs and ponies, and toured rural areas across the United States.

Also known as a “road show.”

BREAKING DOWN 'Dog And Pony Show'

While the term “dog and pony show” has a negative connotation and may be used in a disparaging manner, it fulfills an important function in the capital markets. Known instead by the more respectable term “road show,” these presentations often give brokers, analysts, fund managers and investors an opportunity to meet an issuer’s top management and assess their capabilities firsthand.

Far from being held in decrepit and rundown facilities where the traditional dog and pony shows were often staged, modern-day road shows are generally held in plush ballrooms of luxury hotels and may be attended by hundreds of people. Smaller meetings arranged by the underwriters are also held in private between the company’s management and select institutional investors and high net-worth individuals.

The success or failure of an imminent security offering can often by gauged by the success of its dog and pony show. Road shows by companies that have created a lot of buzz, and where the security offering is highly anticipated, will be very well attended. Such road shows may span a couple of months and are held in numerous venues nationally; larger offerings are often marketed in major overseas financial centers as well. Conversely, a road show by a small company without much brand recognition may only be marketed regionally over a few days.

Depending on their scale and scope, dog and pony shows may cost a company a significant amount of money. However, given their importance as a vital tool for marketing securities, most companies will consider this money well spent.

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