UK firms listed on the stock market are required by the London Stock Exchange to report any price sensitive information.
This includes trading updates, both scheduled and unscheduled, details of management changes, share dealing by directors or acquisitions.
The majority of companies also report half year and full year results. Some larger companies also report in full on a quarterly basis.
A company’s financial results can be lengthy and sometimes difficult to read but there are a number of crucial pieces of information to seek that can help you get a quick understanding of what the results mean and how they are likely to be perceived by the market.
These include the outlook statement, news on any dividend payments, the profit and loss account, cash flow performance and the balance sheet.
The precise time when these results are reported will often depend on the size of the company and when the company’s financial year falls. Often financial years end in December but companies have year-ends which fall throughout the year.
RELEASING RESULTS IN A TIMELY FASHION
Larger firms will often report on the period in question within a month or two of its conclusion. So, for example, oil major BP (BP.) reported on its second quarter running to 30 June one month later on 30 July.
Smaller companies, with more limited resources, might take longer to pull their numbers together. Companies have a deadline of filing their results within six months of the conclusion of a reporting period; if they fail to meet this deadline their shares would have to be suspended. Some firms only just meet this deadline.
For example, oil company Rose Petroleum (ROSE:AIM) reported its results for the 12 months to 31 December on 28 June – so only days before the deadline.
Many companies will have a financial calendar on their corporate website detailing when results are scheduled to be published and/or they will release an announcement notifying the market of the date of their release.
Delaying results can be damaging for a company as it could provoke market concern that there is an issue with the accounts.
Sports retailer Sports Direct (SPD), for example, saw its share price sink as it delayed full year results for the year to 28 April twice, eventually reporting late on 26 July, more than a week after the numbers were originally scheduled to be announced.