Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Finance Reports on Facebook? ; SEC Gives the OK, but Public Companies Balk

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Finance Reports on Facebook? ; SEC Gives the OK, but Public Companies Balk

Article excerpt

Federal regulators recently gave public companies a qualified green light to disclose their financial information on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. But many companies say they don't intend to do so - at least, not right now.

In April, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a report saying public companies can use social media to communicate with investors, as long as the companies tell investors in advance which social media channels they will use.

Many Tri-State companies, though, say they will stick with traditional methods of issuing news releases and making disclosures via the SEC.

"We've not used Facebook or social media in terms of any type of shareholder communications of any type," said Mark

Schroeder, chairman and chief executive officer at Jasper, Ind.- based German American Bancorp.

"Certainly we're going to monitor how other institutions are using social media sites for shareholder communications, but I don't think you're going to see a lot of that."

Many companies around the U.S. feel the same way, according a social media survey released Monday by the National Investor Relations Institute, an investor relations trade group.

Of the investor relations personnel who responded to the survey, 72 percent said they do not use social media to communicate with the investment community. Lack of interest from the investment community was cited as a top reason why the companies were not using social media to reach this group.

Among that 72 percent, about half said they would reassess the issue within the next 12 months.

The attitude expressed in that survey, and by German American, was shared by some other Tri-State companies.

Chris Perille, spokesman for baby formula maker Mead Johnson Nutrition, said the new SEC guidance will not change the company's financial disclosure strategy.

"We continue to use our SEC filings, news releases, quarterly conference calls and webcasts to get important business and financial information out to the general public and investors. We currently do not use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., to make such disclosures," Perille wrote in response to an email query from the Courier & Press.

"We listen to feedback from our investment community customers and will adapt accordingly," Perille wrote.

Evansville-based utility company Vectren expressed a similar view.

"Short-term, we still think that to reach our (investment) audience, we need to go the traditional route," said Vectren spokeswoman Chase Kelley.

So far, Kelley said, Vectren has viewed social media as a way to connect with its utility customers, not investors or analysts.

To that end, Vectren established its first Twitter account two years ago. It now has several accounts where customers can get information on electric outages, company news, job openings and customer service issues. …

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