A senior Financial Times correspondent took me aside once and said: “If you can do anything to persuade your clients not to release results on a Thursday, you’ll be doing me and them a big favour.”
I checked out what he was saying, and sure enough Thursdays are the most popular day for companies to release financial figures. And Thursday this week is the busiest day of this year, with over 25 major companies reporting.
Why is this the case?
Thursday has become the most popular day by default.
Nobody wants to report on a Friday because this means they cannot schedule any major investor meetings for the day after results, and this will delay the beginning of the frantic round of glad-handing that follows an announcement, where the CFO and head of IR try and explain what the CEO meant to a bunch of cynical institutional shareholders.
Nobody wants to report on Monday because this would mean the final rehearsals for the results announcement would be over the weekend, when any self-respecting CEO is in the country, or out of the country (this was before Covid-19, though if you are senior enough you tend to get around these details).
This leaves Tuesday and Wednesday, which tend to be less popular largely because companies (and their advisors) either try to give themselves as much time in the week to dot Is and cross Ts, or default to the strategy of “that’s what we’ve always done”, which computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper famously pointed out was the most dangerous phrase in business.
Why the busiest day is the final Thursday in July is easier to explain. Most companies have a 31 December year end, which means that their half year finishes on 30 June. While full year results tend to spread from about 15 February to late March, depending on how long it takes to reconcile all the figures, half year results tend to be finalised more rapidly. This may be because CFOs put more pressure on their minions to finish their sums quickly, arguing that most people want to be on the beach throughout August (certainly the C-suite do). This leads to heavy bunching at the end of July.
Ergo you end up with a lot of large companies all reporting at the same time – which puts massive pressure on the media, sell side analysts and institutional investors to digest all this data.
So, what did my client say when I fed back the FT’s complaint about reporting on Thursday? They shrugged and carried on doing what they’d always did.
I don’t work with them any more.