Disclosure Requirements

In the recently released Congressional Budget Justification, the Securities and Exchange Commission highlights a number of priorities.  In discussing the Division of Corporation Finance’s activities, the request notes that the Division remains focused on measures designed to promote capital formation.  Among these, the report notes that the Division will consider and propose amendments to modernize disclosure requirements under Regulation S-K as part of the Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative and will implement recommendations resulting from the FAST Act-mandated Regulation S-K study.  The budget request also references the Commission’s intent to “propose amendments to further facilitate capital formation through exempt and registered offerings.”  The request also refers to proposed amendments to modernize industry-specific disclosures applicable to real estate companies, including REITs.  While changes to Industry Guide 7 (mining) and Industry Guide 3 (financial institutions) have been underway, this is the first reference to changes to the REIT industry guide.  Reference is also made to the Commission’s efforts to establish the Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation.

See the request here:  https://www.sec.gov/files/secfy19congbudgjust.pdf.

Below, a continuation of our bibliography of thought-provoking articles on issues related to right-sizing regulation, staying private versus going public, and related topics:

Undue Prominence?

Lin Cheng, Darren Roulstone, and Andrew Van Buskirk consider whether the manner in which information is placed in public company disclosures influences investors’ reactions.  Their paper, “Are Investors Influenced by the Order of Information in Earnings Press Releases?” finds that generally positive information is given more prominence in press releases.  Positive information often appears first rather than being dispersed throughout a release.  The placement of the information conditions investor response.  Given the SEC’s focus on undue prominence given to non-GAAP measures now, such measures would not be emphasized at the expense of GAAP measures.  However, other information may be subject to the same approach by reporting companies.  On a positive note, the study finds that investors do not place undue reliance on the positive information emphasized by management.

Below, a continuation of our bibliography of thought-provoking articles on issues related to right-sizing regulation, staying private versus going public, and related topics:

A Framework for Thinking about Leidos

In “Ask Me No Questions and I Will Tell You No Lies:  The Insignificance of Leidos Before the United States Supreme Court,” Joseph Grundfest addresses the issues arising in Leidos, Inc. v. Indiana Public Retirement System.  The Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case; however, it was settled before it reached the Court.  In Leidos, the Court would have considered whether a separate Section 10(b) action may exist as a result of a pure omission (even if the omission does not render any affirmative statement false or misleading) to address Item 303 of Regulation S-K to discuss known trends.  The Second Circuit has held that an omission of Item 303 disclosure is actionable under Rule 10b-5, while the Ninth Circuit has taken a contrary view.  Grundfest notes that the importance of the case has been overstated as it is of no practical significance as to whether a material pure omission is actionable because it is a pure omission or because it results in a half-truth.  More importantly, the paper provides an excellent discussion of Rule 10b-5 liability and the standard under Item 303.

Morrison & Foerster Webinar 

Our speakers reviewed and discussed SEC and FASB developments that registrants and directors should consider as they prepare their Forms 10-K, including the following:

  • Use of Non-GAAP financial measures;
  • Comment letter trends;
  • Updating your MD&A;
  • New revenue recognition standard;
  • Developments in derivatives/hedge accounting;
  • New lease accounting rules; and
  • New credit impairment rules.

Speakers:

To view this complimentary webinar, please click here.

IFLR Webinar

With companies remaining private longer, their stockholder base often becomes more widely dispersed. More and more privately held companies are facing interesting challenges in communicating effectively with various stakeholders, without violating securities laws. Companies contemplating or undertaking an initial public offering face particularly acute issues as they try to establish effective communications approaches. Finally, public companies face Regulation FD and other regulatory requirements that may require that they map out a careful communications approach. During this session, we address the following:

  • Trends and developments in capital markets communications;
  • New modes of communication and engagement (e.g., social, digital);
  • Non-GAAP financial measures;
  • Navigating disclosure risks and requirements, including
    Regulation FD;
  • Assessing materiality and whether there is an obligation to disclose (and when);
  • Forward-looking statements, financial guidance and communicating with investment professionals, including analysts and rating agencies;
  • Competitive benchmarking and key metrics;
  • Optimizing value in an exit strategy, whether it is an IPO or an M&A exit; and
  • Best practices in public debt communications (as a private company).

Speakers:

  • Jeff Grossman
    Co-CEO, Solebury Communications Group
  • Scott Lesmes
    Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Anna Pinedo
    Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP

To view this complimentary webinar, please click here.

Below, a continuation of our bibliography of thought-provoking articles on issues related to right-sizing regulation, staying private versus going public, and related topics:

JOBS Act and Information Uncertainty

A recent paper titled “The JOBS Act and Information Uncertainty in IPO Firms,” published by Mary E. Barth, Wayne R. Landsman, and Daniel J. Taylor, has garnered quite a bit of attention.  The paper examines the extent to which omission of certain information by emerging growth companies (EGCs) can be tied to IPO underpricing.  According to the paper, EGCs that present compensation information for fewer than five top executives and present fewer than three years of audited financial statements are associated with higher levels of underpricing.  It is difficult to conclude whether there really is a correlation since, in our experience, many of the EGCs that choose to rely on the accommodations and omit this information are concentrated in particular sectors and those are usually associated with underpricing.  Similarly, in our experience, many companies in those sectors have concentrated ownership and existing investors participating in the IPOs.  The paper also concludes that EGCs have higher levels of institutional ownership than non-EGCs. This may not be all that surprising given trends in private capital raising over the last eight to ten years.  The authors suggest that this information should be considered in connection with additional regulatory reforms that might reduce disclosure burdens.  Without more detail comparing the sectors of the companies that are or are not EGCs, and of the EGCs that choose to omit disclosures, and the pricing issues specific to IPOs of companies in such sectors, as well as of companies by age or maturity, it would seem difficult to draw any conclusions.

Thursday, December 14, 2017
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. GMT

With companies remaining private longer, their stockholder base often becomes more widely dispersed. More and more privately held companies are facing interesting challenges in communicating effectively with various stakeholders, without violating securities laws. Companies contemplating or undertaking an initial public offering face particularly acute issues as they try to establish effective communications approaches. Finally, public companies face Regulation FD and other regulatory requirements that may require that they map out a careful communications approach. During this session, we will address the following:

  • Trends and developments in capital markets communications;
  • New modes of communication and engagement (e.g., social, digital);
  • Non-GAAP financial measures;
  • Navigating disclosure risks and requirements, including Regulation FD;
  • Assessing materiality and whether there is an obligation to disclose (and when);
  • Forward-looking statements, financial guidance and communicating with investment professionals, including analysts and rating agencies;
  • Competitive benchmarking and key metrics;
  • Optimizing value in an exit strategy, whether it is an IPO or an M&A exit; and
  • Best practices in public debt communications (as a private company).

Speakers:

  • Jeff Grossman
    Co-CEO, Solebury Communications Group
  • Scott Lesmes
    Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Anna Pinedo
    Partner, Morrison & Foerster LLP

Additional speakers to be announced.

CLE credit is pending for California and New York.

For more information, or to register, please click here.

Now offered as a webinar

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Eastern

Our speakers will review and discuss SEC and FASB developments that registrants and directors should consider as they prepare their Forms 10-K, including the following:

  • Use of Non-GAAP financial measures;
  • Comment letter trends;
  • Updating your MD&A;
  • New revenue recognition standard;
  • Developments in derivatives/hedge accounting;
  • New lease accounting rules; and
  • New credit impairment rules.

Speakers:

NY and CA CLE credit is pending.

To register, please click here.

Yesterday, the Staff of the Division of Corporation Finance provided additional guidance on Rule 701 by issuing this new Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation, Question 271.25, reprinted below:

Question:

To protect against the unauthorized disclosure of Rule 701(e) information, may companies that are using electronic delivery to satisfy Rule 701(e) disclosure requirements implement safeguards with respect to electronic access to Rule 701(e) information?

Answer:

We understand that some companies satisfying their Rule 701(e) delivery obligations electronically have concerns about the potential disclosure of sensitive company information. Standard electronic safeguards, such as user-specific login requirements and related measures, are permissible. The use of a particular electronic disclosure medium either alone or in combination with other safeguards, such as the use of dedicated physical disclosure rooms that house the medium used to convey the information required to be disclosed, should not be so burdensome that intended recipients cannot effectively access the required disclosures. For example, we would expect that physical disclosure rooms would be accessible during ordinary business hours upon reasonable notice. Once access to the required information has been granted, however, the medium used to communicate the required disclosure should provide the opportunity to retain the information or have ongoing access substantially equivalent to personal retention. [November 6, 2017]