Executives at Rogers Communications Inc. have been sent scrambling in recent days after the company mistakenly posted “high-level” financial data to a website, one week before the release of its quarterly earnings.
A spokeswoman for Canada’s largest cable and telecom company said none of the financial information was specific to the upcoming fourth quarter, which is to be announced on Friday, and that the data was removed as soon as the error was noticed.
However, the gaffe raises questions about whether Rogers may have inadvertently disclosed financial information that could have given savvy market watchers a glimpse, however small, into the company’s performance ahead of the earnings release. Though the company will not say specifically what figures were erroneously made public, a source close to the company told the Globe and Mail the mistake was being taken seriously at the highest levels of Rogers.
The error occurred Friday afternoon when figures relating to the company’s operations were posted on the website for Rogers Venture Partners, a venture capital fund run by the telecom giant. “Basically an employee posted some high-level annual financial information on the Ventures website,” Rogers spokeswoman Patricia Trott said. “Just to be prudent, we removed the information from our website.”
Though it remains murky exactly what was disclosed, Ms. Trott said the company did not feel the information was material to the quarter, since it was annual data, and chose not to alert the Ontario Securities Commission. “The info that was posted was generally historic information – annual revenue in specific sectors that was rounded to hundreds of millions of dollars,” Ms. Trott said. “We have individuals looking for Rogers Ventures to invest in them. This info was meant to give a sense of the size and scope of the company.”
Figures that offer a glimpse into growth trends are of particular use to analysts and institutional investors who follow the company closely. Ms. Trott said the data did not include subscriber numbers. Rogers isn’t scheduled to release its quarterly earnings until 7 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15.
Rogers shares dropped sharply at 12:42 pm on Tuesday, with the price falling more than 2 per cent, to $44.84 from about $45.90, before recovering a few minutes later. The reason behind that move is not known, and Rogers did not provide details on when the data was published or for how long it remained up.
Such mistakes are rare, but do happen. In October, Google Inc. rushed its quarterly earnings out several hours ahead of schedule after a draft version was mistakenly filed with regulators early, and became public on the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s website. The documents revealed Google would miss profit expectations and caused the stock to fall 9 per cent in less than 90 minutes, causing the shares to be halted. The Walt Disney Co. also mistakenly published its quarterly earnings early in 2010. And last year, an online company made Microsoft’s earnings public early by guessing at the hidden website address where the company had parked the data until the release date.