- President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted that the US could abandon quarterly financial reporting.
- He said that after meeting with business leaders he had asked the US Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate making such a change.
- Major CEOs like JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett have called for changing the way companies forecast their earnings quarterly.
President Donald Trump on Friday said he had instructed the US Securities and Exchanges Commission to investigate the abolition of quarterly financial reporting for US companies.
Writing on Twitter, Trump said that he had discussions with business leaders and that one leader had asked him to move toward a system of reporting every six months.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “‘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!”
Listed companies in the US must report financial results every three months, but in many other countries businesses are mandated to do so only twice a year.
The UK, for example, does not require companies to report earnings every quarter, though more than 90% of listed firms still do, according to MarketWatch.
CEOs back changes to quarterly forecasting
In a joint letter published in The Wall Street Journal in June, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and the Berkshire Hathaway boss Warren Buffett argued against the practice of quarterly financial forecasting, saying it led to “short-termism” within companies.
While calling for an end to quarterly forecasting is narrower than what Trump appears to have ordered the SEC to investigate, the two leaders’ arguments echo those of people in favour of ending quarterly reporting altogether: that it effectively forces companies to focus on short-term financial performance to please shareholders, sometimes at the expense of longer-term strategy and investment.
“We are encouraging all public companies to consider moving away from providing quarterly earnings-per-share guidance,” Buffett and Dimon wrote in the letter, published in conjunction with the CEO lobby group Business Roundtable.
“In our experience, quarterly earnings guidance often leads to an unhealthy focus on short-term profits at the expense of long-term strategy, growth and sustainability.”
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