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Time to Rethink Disclosure Policies

Swatch watch


Image by cbcastro via Flickr

I recently read that a U.S. District court in Manhattan threw out a motion to dismiss a case in which accused Bloomberg of improperly recording a February 2011 earnings conference call and providing a transcript of that call to Bloomberg users. 
 
Since I’m not a lawyer by trade, I won’t argue whether the judge was justified in his decision based on copyright law.  However, as an investor relations professional with nearly two decades of experience, I will argue the validity of Bloomberg’s belief that “… if a public company discloses financial performance information to a select group of analysts, that company has a responsibility to be transparent and provide that information to everyone.”
 
Cursory research did not turn up a copy of the transcript in question on either StreetEvents or Seeking Alpha, so I have to assume that Swatch Group chooses not to make its conference calls available to the investing public (although they do provide substantial detail about the numbers on their website).  In fairness, I don’t know how Swatch notifies investors of its earnings calls, and maybe they are more forthcoming than I believe them to be, but it seems to me that every public company has a fiduciary responsibility to update everyone, from the largest institutional investor to the smallest shareholder on Main Street, at the same time.  Perhaps it’s time for Swatch to rethink its disclosure policies.

 

— Laurie Berman, lberman@pondel.com