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Pros, cons of semiannual corporate financial reports

Annie Massa and Miles Weiss
Bloomberg News

President Donald Trump’s suggestion to overhaul corporate financial reporting whipped up a long-running debate over short-term thinking in the U.S. stock market.

Trump said in a tweet Friday that he wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine whether businesses would be better off reporting financial results every six months.

The plan rankled some investors who see quarterly reporting as crucial to the transparency of financial markets. Other stakeholders, however, favor the idea since they contend that providing frequent results is costly and chokes off innovation.

Here’s a look at the potential benefits and drawbacks.


CEOs can look at the big picture: “In principle, doing things that get executives to focus on the longer-term is good, and reducing the cost of being a public company is a positive,’’ said Karl Scheer, chief investment officer of the University of Cincinnati’s $1 billion endowment.Gives flexibility to smaller companies.

Stock exchanges have long blamed regulatory burdens for a decline in the number of companies going public. Removing that pressure could help lighten the load, according to Nasdaq Inc.

“Some companies looking to encourage long-termism and reduce costs would benefit from the flexibility to provide full reports semiannually,” Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Adena Friedman said in a report, first published in 2017, on reforming capital markets.


Puts investors in the dark: The proposal “is a horrible idea from an investor’s point of view,” as it would be “a major move to provide less information,” Hilton Capital Management’s Dick Bove said.

Investor information has “already been dramatically reduced” in recent years, he added.

Could encourage insider trading: “You have such a long dark-period where there is no information going out to the public,” said Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and former vice chairman of Fidelity Investments. “But there are a lot of material developments in six months. You’re dramatically increasing the temptation for people to trade” on inside information, he said.

Fails to create meaningful change in a 24-hour news cycle: “A lot of people feel it will promote a more long-term perspective. But that ship has sailed,” said Nell Minow, vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors, a firm that advises institutional investors on corporate governance issues. “Information comes out so differently these days. I’m not sure the earnings reports make that much of a difference.”Could exacerbate volatility around earnings. Charles Rotblut, vice president of the American Association of Individual Investors, said that the move could make wild price swings worse during earnings time. “Beats and misses could potentially be met with even bigger price swings then they are currently are,” he said. –With assistance from Felice Maranz , Janet Lorin and Michael McDonald .