Japan Earnings Leaks Drain Investor Confidence: Street Whispers
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Not satisfied with draining profits, Japan's top corporations are struggling to keep their confidential quarterly financial results from being leaked.
It may be time to question whether those leaks -- coupled with highly publicized fraud at camera-giant Olympus and an insider trading crisis at Nomura Holdings(NMR) -- are symptoms of an increasingly unhealthy investing climate in Japan.
On Tuesday, Japanese newswire Kyodo was able to get a hold of Panasonic's(PC) second quarter profit figures well ahead of the electronics maker's earnings scheduled for later in the day. Citing anonymous sources, Kyodo reported that Panasonic, one of Japan's largest and most recognizable companies, had turned to a net profit of 10 billion yen - its first quarter in the black since December 2010.
The report went on attribute the profit to a cut in two plant operations and a restructuring of headcount in Panasonic's flat-panel TV and semiconductor units, citing the unnamed sources, who also confirmed that the company would maintain its full-year revenue and profit forecasts. By market cap, Panasonic is larger than rivals Sony(SNE) and Toshiba( TOSBF) and the report sent Japan's electronics manufacturers higher.
"The media report is not on any official announcements by Panasonic," said the company, in response to the leaked financial information. As it turned out, Panasonic reported a profit of 12.8 billion yen, and maintained its fiscal 2013 outlook.
But Panasonic is not alone in struggling to contain its earnings information, a piece of financial information that is considered sacred ground, even in a business press that celebrates and competes for leaked information on mergers, initial public offerings and management change from a usually anonymous cohort of corporate insiders, bankers and consultants.
Bloomberg obtained Nomura Holdings fourth quarter earnings roughly two days before they were set to be announced on April 27 and reported that trading gains had propelled the bank to a 50% increase in year-over-year net income to 18 billion yen, citing two unnamed sources. The news pushed Nomura shares nearly 2% higher, however, the sources also told Bloomberg that the earnings figure was 'preliminary' and could change when the company's board met later in the week.