A company's market value is a key determinant of its future success, affecting its ability to raise capital, recruit and retain key employees, and make strategic acquisitions. Confident, well‐informed investors are necessary for achieving and maintaining accurate valuation of a company's stock. But standard disclosure practice has left many companies releasing a great deal of data while conveying only limited understanding to outsiders. This article presents the outline of an integrated approach to corporate disclosure in which each of the three major elements–required financial reports, supplemental disclosure, and interactions with investors and intermediaries–are consistent and mutually reinforcing. Such an approach begins with required reports that refiect as closely as possible the economic reality of a company's business. But if GAAP income statements and balance sheets are often useful for communicating current and past performance, they are not designed to convey management's strategic vision and the company's prospects for creating value. To achieve and maintain accurate valuation, management must supplement mandated financial reporting with voluntary communication that highlights value drivers and helps investors understand both the company's strategic goals and management's progress in meeting those goals. Finally, management must interact with investors and capital market intermediaries in ways that provide them with a clear and compelling picture of the company's prospects, which should help both analysts and institutional investors become more effective monitors of the firm's performance. Through consistent communication that goes well beyond the sell side's focus on quarterly earnings per share, management will discover that it has the power to set the agenda for how the company's performance is evaluated by the market. In the process, companies are also likely to find that their investors (and analysts) are more patient than they thought, while their operating managers feel less pressure to take shortsighted steps to boost EPS. Both of these expected benefits of an integrated disclosure policy should end up increasing a company's value.
Journal of Applied Corporate Finance – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 2004
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