Four times a year there's a kind of parade on Wall Street: companies announce their quarterly earnings, all in a row, with the banks first, then the tech companies, and the retailers bringing up the rear. Stocks can rise or plunge based on the results. And three months later it all happens again.
But regulators are wondering if it's time for a change.
For about 40 years, companies have had to make four yearly reports of basic financial information, including how much money they earned or lost, how much revenue they took in and what their expenses were. It's supposed to help investors make informed decisions. But the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that it may change those rules. It noted there are drawbacks to the requirements, like the time and money companies have to spend to prepare the reports, and the possibility that important information gets lost in the flood of stuff companies have to disclose.
The SEC didn't propose any specific new rules or commit to making changes. It's really asking some philosophical questions: what do investors need to know? What's the balance between transparency, which investors need, and burdening companies with regulations?