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Source: CFO Journal. (The Wall Street Journal Digital Network), October 18, 2012 article

 

CFO Report

 

October 18, 2012, 12:20 PM ET

Website-Only Disclosure Unlikely Soon: Survey

 

 

[Maxwell Murphy]

It has been four years since the Securities and Exchange Commission told companies how they could switch to using corporate websites as the sole means of disclosure for certain material information, but few companies have made the move and most think they never will.

The National Investor Relations Institute on Wednesday released a survey of 2,038 public-company IR staffers and consultants that found 64% of respondents agreed or “strongly” agreed that their companies would never exclusively use their website. At the same time, 68% also agreed that a website-only disclosure strategy “may be good for a few companies, but not for the majority.”

A switch to website disclosure could save firms thousands of dollars a year in rapidly rising press-release costs. NIRI’s survey found the average cost to issue press releases through third parties among 236 companies was more than $49,000 a year, which represented a 29% increase from the group’s 2010 survey results.

But the potential cost savings, albeit a tiny sum for all but the smallest companies, are outweighed by the concerns of corporate lawyers who advise companies against taking such a step.

One respondent from a mega-cap, real-estate rental and leasing company suggested that “additional guidance from the SEC might be helpful to embolden our attorneys – inside and outside the company – to permit our website to become a recognized/primary source for material disclosure,” according to NIRI.

“We think investors prefer and expect to find material disclosure on our website…and SEC filings,” this person wrote, NIRI said.

In 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission provided guidance on the use of websites for corporate disclosure, which allows companies to use only their websites, instead of press releases and form 8-K filings with the agency, to announce certain material news. According to NIRI, a website can satisfy Regulation FD disclosure requirements for certain material disclosures provided that the company has taken certain steps, including ensuring that its website is a “recognized channel of distribution of information to the market.”

Copyright ©2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

 

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