President Donald Trump says he’s asking federal regulators to consider scrapping the requirement quarterly earnings reports for public companies after business executives told him twice-yearly reports would make better economic sense.
In a tweet early Friday, Trump said that after speaking with several top business leaders, he’s asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to determine whether shifting to a six-month reporting requirement would help companies grow faster and create more jobs.
In speaking with some of the world’s top business leaders I asked what it is that would make business (jobs) even better in the U.S. “Stop quarterly reporting & go to a six month system,” said one. That would allow greater flexibility & save money. I have asked the SEC to study!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2018
Trump later told reporters the idea was especially urged on him by Indra Nooyi, a prominent business figure who is CEO of PepsiCo, who is stepping down in October.
“So we’re looking at this very, very seriously,” Trump said. “We’re looking at two times a year rather than four times a year.”
The SEC requires public companies to report profit, revenue and other figures publicly every three months. The requirement dates to the establishment of the agency in the 1930s Great Depression, as a way to give investors confidence in company information.
Experts have long asserted that the practice of companies publicly forecasting every quarter how they expect earnings to shake out puts too much stress on short-term performance and stock price gains. That can pressure executives to engage in reckless practices to hit quarterly targets or even to manipulate earnings reports. But quarterly reports on results are distinct from the so-called earnings guidance that company executives provide as a forecast.
Scrapping the quarterly requirement “is a solution in search of a problem,” said Charles Elson, a professor and director of the University of Delaware’s Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. “Earnings manipulation can take place whether quarterly or every six months.”
Quarterly earnings reports are “early warning signs of other bigger problems,” Elson said.
Business executives pressing for less frequent financial reporting maintain that the costs of putting together quarterly as well as annual reports are burdensome.
SEC spokesmen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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