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National Policy 51-201 Disclosure Standards
Part V Risks Associated With Certain Disclosures
Section 5.1

Private Briefings with Analysts, Institutional Investors and other Market Professionals

(1) The role that analysts play in seeking out information, analyzing and interpreting it and making recommendations can contribute to a more efficient marketplace. Companies should be sensitive though to the risks involved in private meetings with analysts. We are not suggesting that companies should stop having private briefings with analysts or that these private meetings are somehow illegal. Companies should have a firm policy of providing only non-material information and publicly disclosed information to analysts.

(2) Companies should not disclose significant data, and in particular financial information such as sales and profit figures, to analysts, institutional investors and other market professionals selectively rather than to the market as a whole. Earnings forecasts are in the same category. Even within these constraints there is plenty of scope to hold a useful dialogue with analysts and other interested parties about a company’s prospects, business environment, management philosophy and long term strategy.

(3) Another way to avoid selective disclosure is to include, in the company’s regular periodic disclosures, details about topics of interest to analysts. For example, companies should expand the scope of their interim management’s discussion and analysis disclosure (“MD&A”). More comprehensive MD&A can have practical benefits including: greater analyst following; more accurate forecasts with fewer revisions; a narrower range between analysts’ forecasts; and increased investor interest.

(4) A company cannot make material information immaterial simply by breaking the information into seemingly non-material pieces. At the same time, a company is not prohibited from disclosing non-material information to analysts, even if these pieces help the analyst complete a “mosaic” of information that, taken together, is material undisclosed information about the company.[FN 33]

FN 33 See also SEC’s adopting release to Regulation FD.

National Policy 51-201 Disclosure Standards
Part V Risks Associated With Certain Disclosures
Section 5.2

Analyst Reports

(1) It is not unusual for analysts to ask corporate officers to review earnings estimates that they are preparing. A company takes on a high degree of risk of violating securities legislation if it selectively confirms that an analyst’s estimate is “on target” or that an analyst’s estimate is “too high” or “too low”, whether directly or indirectly through implied “guidance”. [FN 34]

(2) Even when confirming information previously made public, a company needs to consider whether the selective confirmation itself communicates information above and beyond the initial forecast and whether the additional information is material. This will depend in large part on how much time has passed between the original statement and the company’s confirmation, as well as the timing of the two statements relative to the end of the company’s fiscal period. For example, a selective confirmation of expected earnings near the end of a quarter is likely to represent guidance (as it may well be based on how the company actually performed). Materiality of a confirmation may also depend on intervening events. [FN 35]

(3) One way companies can try to ensure that analyst’s estimates are in line with their own expectations is through the regular and timely public dissemination of qualitative and quantitative information. The better the marketplace is informed, the less likely it is that analysts’ estimates will deviate significantly from a company’s own expectations.

FN 34 This position follows the position adopted by the SEC in the adopting release to Regulation FD and the position taken by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission in its guidance note “Better Disclosure for Investors” (http://www.asic.gov.au).

FN 35 The guidance with respect to the materiality of confirming information previously made public is based on SEC Staff interpretive guidance on Regulation FD.

National Policy 51-201 Disclosure Standards
Part V Risks Associated With Certain Disclosures
Section 5.3

Confidentiality Agreements with Analysts

While we recognize that relying on a confidentiality agreement to safeguard the continued confidentiality of material information can be a prudent practice, there is no exception to the tipping prohibition for disclosures made to an analyst under a confidentiality agreement. [FN 37] If a company discloses material undisclosed information to an analyst, it has violated the prohibition, with or without a confidentiality agreement (unless the disclosure is made in the necessary course of business). Analysts who get an advance private briefing have an advantage. They have more time to prepare and can therefore brief their firm members and clients sooner than those who did not have access to the information.

FN 37 By comparison, Regulation FD allows an issuer to make a disclosure of material nonpublic information to an analyst if the analyst enters into a confidentiality agreement with the issuer.

National Policy 51-201 Disclosure Standards
Part V Risks Associated With Certain Disclosures
Section 5.4

Analysts as “Tippees”

(1) Analysts, institutional investors, investment dealers and other market professionals who receive material undisclosed information from a company are “tippees”. It is against the law for a tippee to trade or further inform anyone about such information, other than in the necessary course of business.

(2) We recommend that analysts, institutional investors and other market professionals adopt internal review procedures to help them identify situations where they may have received nonpublic material information and set up guidelines for dealing with such situations.

National Policy 51-201 Disclosure Standards
Part V Risks Associated With Certain Disclosures
Section 5.5

Selective Disclosure Violations Can Occur in a Variety of Settings

Selective disclosure most often occurs in one-on-one discussions (like analyst meetings) and in industry conferences and other types of private meetings and break-out sessions. But it can occur elsewhere. For example, a company should not disclose material nonpublic information at its annual shareholders meeting unless all interested members of the public may attend the meeting and the company has given adequate public notice of the meeting (including a description of what will be discussed at the meeting). Alternatively, a company can issue a news release at or before the time of the meeting.