Sunday 17 November 2019

Results season hurts firms and it needs to change

'For months in advance ... everyone knows Apple will release its third quarter numbers tomorrow'
'For months in advance ... everyone knows Apple will release its third quarter numbers tomorrow'

Peter Flanagan

By now we are deep in results season, with a host of top names having posted numbers last week, and another load of firms ready to present their accounts this week.

Business hacks love to complain about the avalanche of company results that arrive in a bunch every three or six months, but business editors love results season because you can set your watch by it.

For months in advance, for example, everyone knows Apple will release its third quarter numbers tomorrow, while Aer Lingus parent IAG will have its accounts out on Friday.

That means we can have all sorts of previews ready, and analysts lined up to dissect the numbers as soon as they cross the tape.

But is the regulatory requirement for a public company to present results every quarter in the US and every six months here actually hurting companies?

When Michael Dell took his eponymous company private three years ago, the consensus was that it was the right move because Dell could reinvent the business without having to "beat the Street" every three months. In other words, the company could plan for long term success, in other words the company could not plan for the long term while it was listed on the public markets.

That is a farce. A company should be able to reinvent itself while still on the public markets. The reporting frequency should be reduced to give firms a chance.

Apple leads the line of companies reporting this week. Closer to home, C&C will report its half-year results, with the spotlight squarely on Stephen Glancey.

All eyes will turn to the CSO on Wednesday when it releases residential property prices for September. Prices rose by 9.5pc in August, the 27th month in a row that saw prices increase.

With the Central Bank rules on mortgage lending now in place, anecdotal evidence suggests house prices have flattened out in recent weeks. It will be interesting to see if that sense in the market can be shown to be something more than just a feeling.

The week ahead


TNT Express third quarter results


Apple third quarter results

Coach third quarter results


Residential Property Prices for September (CSO)

Retail sales for September (CSO)

C&C interim results


Deutsche Bank third quarter results


IAG interim results

Irish Independent

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