What if an executive posts earnings results before their release?

Jun 08, 2020
In this regular article, we ask IR professionals how they would respond to a specific operational issue. This time we asked what respondents would do if one of their traveling executives confused time zones and tweeted earnings results before their public release

Marisa Jacobs, former investor relations officer at Crocs, says:

The best way to proceed following an inadvertent early release of earnings-related information depends on the specifics of the situation. The scenario suggests the executive is in a time zone ahead of the company’s. If so, the release would presumably be keyed up for issuance in a few hours in any event. The company should immediately issue the press release and a corresponding 8K, but leave the time for the conference call unchanged. If all of this is happening when the markets are closed, the damage will be contained. If the tweet is made during market hours, I would immediately consult with the relevant exchange to determine whether a trading halt is warranted. The company should also proceed with an accelerated issuance of the press release and 8K as soon as possible, and proceed with the conference call as initially planned.

Friederike Edelmann, director of investor relations at Criteo, says:

This is (hopefully) theoretical in our case as we typically have management members traveling internationally quite frequently so they are aware of different time zones. Thankfully, we don’t have too many folks tweeting. But I think it all depends on how long before the call the info goes out and exactly what info is leaked. If possible, you can send out your earnings release as promptly as possible and keep your call at the scheduled time but, again, it heavily depends on the circumstances.

Kimberly Esterkin, managing director at ADDO Investor Relations, says:

First, don’t panic. The SEC will consider this an unintentional disclosure. Next, take action: round up the troops and get your earnings release finalized as soon as possible. If it’s the day of your call, the release is likely in near-final form anyway. Make contact with your listed exchange; it may want to halt trading momentarily. Then prepare to issue your financials. If not already uploaded to the wires, the release may take some time to format, so use that time to tweet from your company account, reminding everyone about your call today and alerting them that the release is imminent.

Speed to recover is essential, but when you do issue your earnings results, make sure your release is well written and error-free. Don’t rush to get something out just to get yourself back on solid ground. When it comes to the earnings call, make light of it. Say, ‘I forgot to change my watch’, or ‘Did you know that London is nine hours ahead?’. Remember, we all make mistakes – but it’s how we recover from them that sets your IR program apart from others.

Marc Jasmin, senior director of investor relations at IMV, says:

First, call members of Donald Trump’s team, who probably have the greatest experience of dealing with this kind of erratic behavior. Then immediately call market surveillance to expose the situation and follow its guidance.

 

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of IR Magazine

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