Today, June 30, is the reference date for calendar year-end companies to calculate next year’s filer status, as well as the aggregate market value of equity held by non-affiliates (i.e., public float) for purposes of inclusion in the annual report on Form 10-K to be filed in early 2021. In preparing these calculations, it is important each year for counsel to apply the definitions of public float and the relevant filer statuses to ensure that upcoming filings are made timely.

For calculating 2021 filer status, however, several of the definitions have changed. Earlier this year, the SEC adopted amendments adding a revenue element to the definitions of accelerated filer and large accelerated filer to exclude low revenue filers. While relatively straightforward in theory, the tests have proven rather complicated in practice. To assist companies in applying the amendments, the SEC has produced a Small Entity Compliance Guide. Although helpful, even this guide may prove difficult at times to follow.

Since most companies will start analyzing these changes today, this blog post is intended as a practical reminder of and gap-filling guide to the relevant changes for public companies. Generally, the amended definitions now include a carve-out for smaller reporting companies (SRC) with annual revenues less than $100 million in most recent audited annual financial statements.

Continue Reading Happy Filer Status Day! Remember to Check the New SEC Definitions for Accelerated Filer and Large Accelerated Filer

On May 21, the SEC finalized amendments to its rules and forms revising the disclosure requirements for financial statements relating to acquisitions and dispositions of businesses, which were adopted in substantially the same form as proposed in May 2019. The amendments were effected “to enhance the quality of information that investors receive while eliminating unnecessary costs and burdens.”

The final amendments will, among other things, update the definition of “significant subsidiary” in Rule 1-02(w) of Regulation S-X, Securities Act Rule 405, and Exchange Act Rule 12b-2 to update the investment and income significance tests in each rule, as summarized in the table below. (Since no substantive changes were made to the asset test, we have not included it in the table below.)

Continue Reading SEC Finalizes Amendments to Financial Disclosures Regarding Significant Acquisitions and Dispositions

One of the key areas of disclosure focus for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic was the impact that the pandemic might have on the presentation of non-GAAP financial measures for public companies.  For example, when providing  disclosure guidance for how registrants should approach COVID-19-related considerations in CF Disclosure Guidance: Topic No. 9, issued by the Division of Corporation Finance on March 25, 2020 (CF Disclosure Topic 9), the Staff stated that, with respect to the disclosure of non-GAAP financial measures in the pandemic environment, “where a GAAP financial measure is not available at the time of the earnings release because the measure may be impacted by COVID-19-related adjustments,” the SEC “would not object to companies reconciling a non-GAAP financial measure to preliminary GAAP results that either include provisional amount(s) based on a reasonable estimate, or a range of reasonably estimable GAAP results.”

Nevertheless, it has been our experience (consistent with the survey results summarized below) that most registrants did not include COVID-19-related adjustments in connection with the presentation of non-GAAP financial measures in the first quarter.  This article summarizes our survey results and analyzes factors that may have impacted the determination of most registrants not to include any COVID-19-related adjustments in connection with their presentation of non-GAAP financial measures in first-quarter disclosure materials.

As part of our survey, we reviewed 55 public companies that presented Adjusted EBITDA in their earnings release filed in the period from April 1, 2020, to May 14, 2020.  We chose to focus on Adjusted EBITDA in this survey (recognizing that such measure is utilized more frequently in some industries than others) because such measure is commonly utilized by public companies to measure their operational performance and frequently includes adjustments for items that are believed not to reflect the ongoing operational performance of the company.  While we limited our survey to registrants that presented Adjusted EBITDA, we believe that the survey results have relevance for companies that present other types of non-GAAP performance measures which are adjusted for special items or items outside of the ordinary course of business.

Continue Reading Whether to Adjust for COVID-19 in Non-GAAP Financial Measures: A Survey and Overview of First Quarter Disclosure Practices

In case you missed it, we discussed virtual annual meetings at our recent Public Company Town Hall Webinar: Securities Law Guidance for First Quarter Reporting Season. Access the recording here.

Among the numerous considerations related to upcoming annual stockholder meetings being hosted solely using remote (virtual) communication as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, one question that several clients and colleagues have raised is whether management must host a “live” question and answer (Q&A) session on the webcast or whether stockholders must submit their questions in advance (i.e., no “real-time” submission of questions at the meeting).

Based on our survey of company practices in the Fortune 100 (as discussed further below), most companies in our survey are allowing shareholders to ask questions during the virtual annual meeting, with 58% permitting stockholders to submit questions only during the virtual annual meeting and another 32% also permitting stockholders to submit questions in advance of the virtual annual meeting. Continue Reading Q&A at Virtual Stockholder Meetings: A Review of Latest Trends

As calendar-year public companies are beginning to prepare their Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q (Form 10-Q) for their first quarter, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the related societal and economic impact continues to evolve. One important item that companies will need to consider as part of their Form 10-Q preparation is whether any new (or expanded) risk factors relating to COVID-19 should be included in their Form 10-Q.

Form 10-Q requires companies to disclose any material changes to the risk factors that were included in their Annual Report on Form 10-K (Form 10-K). Absent merger and acquisition activity or other material developments, it is not unusual for companies to determine no material changes have occurred since their Form 10-K was filed (and as a result no new risk factor disclosure is required).

However, given the significant impact of COVID-19 on businesses so far this year, we expect most companies will update their existing risk factor disclosure. Investors and other stakeholders are paying particular attention to COVID-19 disclosures, and the risks that COVID-19 poses to a company may not always be obvious to such stakeholders absent robust disclosure.

Continue Reading Reevaluating Risk Factors in Response to COVID-19

In a previous blog post, we discussed certain high-level considerations for first-quarter 2020 earnings releases and guidance in the context of the macroeconomic uncertainty brought about by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  We indicated our expectation that a significant number of registrants would elect to withdraw guidance in light of this uncertainty.

To get a more comprehensive view of how registrants have approached financial guidance, we analyzed disclosures in earnings releases by off-calendar year-end companies furnished with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on or after March 16, 2020.  As noted in greater detail below, a majority of companies issuing earnings releases during this period have withdrawn or suspended guidance.  This post presents the results of our analysis.

Continue Reading COVID-19: Bass, Berry & Sims’ Survey of Earnings Release Guidance Practices in the Wake of the Pandemic

For public companies and for market participants generally, the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have been unpredictable, swift, and universal.  In a groundbreaking joint statement entitled “The Importance of Disclosure – For Investors, Markets and Our Fight Against COVID-19,” issued on April 8, Jay Clayton, the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and William Hinman, Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, tackled the question of how public companies should approve their disclosures in the coming weeks when they are issuing earnings releases and conducting analyst and investor calls.

In summary, Chair Clayton and Director Hinton request companies to provide as much information as is practicable regarding their current status and plans for addressing the effects of COVID-19.

Continue Reading SEC Chair Clayton and Corp Fin Director Hinman Issue a Joint Statement Requesting More Forward-Looking Disclosures on COVID-19 Impacts in Upcoming Earnings Calls

On March 23, the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a Statement warning against insider trading during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In particular, the SEC cautioned that insiders are “regularly learning” new material non-public information (MNPI) that may “hold an even greater value than under normal circumstances.”  The SEC also noted that unique circumstances mean more people may have access to MNPI than may typically be the case.  This is particularly true for companies that delay earnings releases and SEC filings due to the pandemic.

Recognizing the heightened risk of illegal securities trading as a result of these and other factors, the SEC urged publicly traded companies to be mindful of their established controls and policies to protect against the improper dissemination and use of MNPI.

Proactive Steps for Public Companies

In light of the SEC’s Statement and the unique circumstances that companies are facing during the pandemic, publicly traded companies should take affirmative steps to mitigate insider trading risks.

Continue Reading Heightened Insider Trading Risk Due to COVID-19

Please join the Bass, Berry & Sims Corporate & Securities Practice Group for a series of complimentary webinars exploring various public company-related securities law issues. These programs are an extension of our Securities Law Exchange Blog and feature timely and practical guidance to SEC disclosure counsel on key topics of interest.

The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact public companies, giving rise to a myriad of disclosure challenges and developments that public companies are facing. Join our corporate & securities attorneys for a Securities Law Exchange “town hall” style webinar. Through a question- and-answer format, we discuss securities law developments and trends, including those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Topics include:

  • Recent COVID-19 pronouncements of the SEC Staff
  • Earnings releases/earnings call considerations, including approaching guidance (See recent blog post here)
  • Upcoming 10-Q disclosure changes for COVID-19 and otherwise
  • Holding a hybrid/virtual annual meeting (See recent blog post here)

Who Should Attend

  • Outside and in-house counsel
  • Public company finance and SEC reporting personnel
  • Compliance officers
  • Other interested professionals

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued interpretive guidance, effective February 25, 2020, regarding the disclosure of key performance indicators and metrics (KPIs) in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A).

While this guidance may not have been an area of significant focus for many companies in the recent periodic reporting cycle given that the effective date of this guidance was after the time that many calendar-year public companies filed their Annual Reports on Form 10-K, this guidance will need to be considered in connection with the preparation of upcoming Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.

Overview of the Staff’s Recent Guidance Regarding KPIs in MD&As

The MD&A is generally required to contain discussion of a company’s financial condition, changes in financial condition, and results of operations. Also, according to Item 303(a) of Regulation S-K, the MD&A is also required to contain discussion of information not specifically referenced in the item that the company believes is necessary to an understanding of its financial condition, changes in financial condition, and results of operations. Instruction 1 to Item 303(a) also provides that the MD&A should include a discussion and analysis of other statistical data that in the company’s judgment enhances a reader’s understanding of MD&A.

Continue Reading SEC Interpretive Guidance on Key Performance Indicators and Metrics in MD&A, and a Recent KPI Comment Letter