(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.