Microsoft on Oct 18 which was a Monday published its quarterlies on the Microsoft website at 16:15. The 8K was filed with the SEC at 16:28. A press release letting the world know about the existence of material new information was issued at 16:44. Any beginner student in compliance can tell you this is ass backward. I cannot believe a lawyer(s) said this is OK. I cannot believe the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is letting this one get by.
Google has started doing the same this summer publishing financial results on its website first at 16:00 Reuters could not get a headline off until 16:21.
In both cases the financials were released after market close. But after hours trading was a factor. Does the SEC regulate the after hours markets? Both firms lay claim to letting the internet do the dissemination claiming anyone who wants has a RSS feed. Both firms have huge vested interests in search engine technology. Are they trying to enhance their own search engines?
No word on how quickly Google Finance and MSN Money were updated. The question now becomes why. The markets knew the releases where coming. The dates are announced weeks in advance. But why take the risk of a SEC investigation? Why take the risk of class action lawsuits? Why take the risk of looking stupid and annoying investors?
The two firms are starting to mimic each other. No one is impressed. Investor relations does not use these instances as best practice examples. Hubris and arrogance because they are big. The market needs one rule for all issuers. the rules are there for the investors not the reporting companies.
Suggested SEC action. Have the Boards of Directors explain their oversight of fundamental no brainer compliance issues. they are ultimately responsible. While we are at it lets check some trading records. Hey didn’t that Microsoft guy Steve Ballmer just sell a ton of his holdings. Hmm There are no accidents some will say.
Disclosure: George Gutowski writes from a caveat emptor perspective. I hold no positions in stocks mentioned in this post.
- New Business Wire Blog Post from Chairman and CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz: Microsoft Needs To Get its Head Out of the Cloud When it Comes to Disclosure (eon.businesswire.com)
- A Lack of Transparency in S.E.C. Disclosure Rule (dealbook.nytimes.com)
- Celebrating the End of a Rigged Game (money.usnews.com)
- “The top 100 CEOs don’t do it…” (publicrelationssydney.com.au)