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Trump sets wheels in motion to abolish quarterly reporting rule

19 August, 2018, 21:11 | Author: Sara Gill
  • Trump calls for study on ending to quarterly earnings reports

President Donald Trump brought a long-simmering debate on Wall Street to the surface yesterday when he prodded regulators to look into scaling back how often publicly traded companies report financial results.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said meetings with corporate executives had prompted him to ask the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to study letting public companies file financial reports every six months instead of every quarter.

The SEC could make such a change on its own without Congress passing legislation, but that doesn't mean it will, said David Martin, who previously ran the agency unit that oversees corporate filings.

"That would allow greater flexibility & save money", he said in a post on Twitter on Friday.

Ultimately, the SEC is an independent commission-led agency and the president can not force it to change policies.

The news came via a tweet this morning from the president, who said he received insight from "some of the world's top business leaders", one of whom suggested that if the SEC were to "stop quarterly reporting [and] go to a six month system", it would boost USA business growth and employment. "Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system", said one. The Commissioners' offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The SEC is the regulatory arm of the SEA, and since its formation, quarterly earnings reports have been mandatory.

The SEC was created in 1934 in the midst of the great depression and requires publicly-traded companies to issue quarterly and annual earnings reports to keep the public informed on their operations and financial situation.


Still, Van Sinderen cautions, six months can be a long time for smaller companies - particularly those shouldering hard challenges - and can lead to other issues should those two reports differ drastically.

"The difficulty in making better long-term decisions away from a quarterly reporting cycle certainly stands out as being beneficial", said Art Hogan at investment bank B. Riley FBR.

The quarterly reports provide important insight into a company's potential trouble spots, and force its executives to address shareholders' concerns while enforcing corporate discipline, corporate governance experts say. Two influential figures, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, recently urged together that public companies either reduce or eliminate quarterly earnings guidance.

Last fall it laid out a blueprint for changes to capital market rules in a U.S. Treasury report, but did not advocate scrapping quarterly reporting.

"Less frequent reporting can raise the cost of capital", he said.

The US Chamber of Commerce and other lobbying groups have also blamed compliance burdens for preventing more companies from selling shares.

"Investors will demand they get their information", Ed Yardeni, founder of Yardeni Research Inc., said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

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