PRN offers Quick View to aid inundated business editors

NEW YORK: With editors lamenting, even avoiding, long, complex IR announcements, and the SEC demanding more detailed data, PR Newswire is planning an optional statistical snapshot of a company's financial results on all earnings press releases.

NEW YORK: With editors lamenting, even avoiding, long, complex IR announcements, and the SEC demanding more detailed data, PR Newswire is planning an optional statistical snapshot of a company's financial results on all earnings press releases.

Codenamed Quick View and located below the headline, it's a template that lists the company's sales, net income, average shares outstanding, and earnings per share for the current reporting period and the comparable year- earlier figures - for free. The issuer, not PR Newswire, fills in the numbers. The company is trying to roll it out in October in time for third-quarter earnings announcements.

"We're not trying to dictate what companies have to report, explains John Williams, PR Newswire's EVP, global markets. "We're trying to help the media recipients of our content get a quick view of a company's performance.

They can get the in-depth information below in the body of the news release."

Williams insists the template will "add clarity and understanding to quarterly and year-end earnings releases that can run 18 to 20 pages or longer. "It seems like attorneys are driving that, trying to get in as many financial details as possible, he said. "Companies don't want to look like they're hiding anything, so they report everything. But it's hard to absorb it all."

PR pros are receptive but cautious. "Today, with more information being better, if it's easier for reporters to find information, it's better for the reader, said Les Schupak, managing partner of KCSA Public Relations.

"Anything that provides clarity and an apples-to-apples comparison has value, noted Neal Rosen, partner in Kalt Rosen & Co., a San Francisco IR firm. But he doesn't want to see Quick View limited to GAAP numbers only. "In some situations, pro-forma reporting is legitimate."

Holly Anderson, financial relations chief for Intuit, a Mountain View, CA financial software company, "likes the idea of organizing information so all readers can quickly get what they need. But must it be put in a box to make it accessible?"

EDITORS' VIEWS

Bennie Dinardo, deputy business editor, The Boston Globe "Corporate earnings announcements are becoming very confusing. We have one copy editor who puts the results in a standardized format, but it's taking more of his time to decipher these releases. It's hard to parse out all the important numbers and compare them. We try to do earnings stories on major New England companies from Dow Jones Newswires where their staff has boiled down the company's news release"

JONATHAN FRIEDLAND, LA bureau chief, The Wall Street Journal

"A template isn't very interesting. On earnings stories, we look at the Dow Jones wire first for basic understanding, then we look at a news release"

DON SMITH, business editor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Distilling the financial results to a box score of the basics - sales, net income, and EPS - would be helpful. But it would have to be GAAP numbers, not a mix of GAAP and pro forma results".

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