今年8月，特朗普通过推文发表了一项令人惊讶的声明，表示他已经要求美国证券与交易委员会（Securities and Exchange Commission）进行研究，取消上市公司刊发季度报告的规定，改用半年报代替。特朗普认为此举有助于降低公司成本，不过一些投资者喜欢它另有原因：它可以抑制那些影响研发，长期来看损害投资者利益的短视行为。
这些做法反过来又会导致业绩下滑。南加利福尼亚大学（University of Southern California）的会计学教授K.R.·苏布拉马尼亚姆最近以“热衷发布业绩指引的公司”为主题，对近2,000家公司进行了评估，这些都是在各行业内发布业绩指引最为频繁的公司。那些比同行更多地达成季度预测，却在研发上投入更少的公司，长远来看收入的增长率都较低。
这类数据促使由摩根大通（JPMorgan Chase）的首席执行官杰米·戴蒙担任主席的游说组织Business Roundtable在今年夏天联合沃伦·巴菲特，呼吁公司降低发布业绩指引的频率。总统的提议又在减少业绩报告本身上更进一步。
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S IMPROMPTU Twitter musings often move stock markets (along with investors’ heart rates). But in one recent tweet, the President proposed a reform of those markets—one that some money managers see as a potentially important improvement.
In August, Trump made a surprise announcement via tweet that he had asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to consider reducing the required number of financial reporting periods for public companies from four a year to two. Trump cast the proposal as a money-saver for companies, but some investors like it for a different reason: It could discourage the kind of short-term thinking that undercuts research and development and hurts shareholders in the long run.
Once a company goes public, it’s legally obligated to release detailed financial information every quarter. Analysts and shareholders study these reports intently, using them as a stethoscope to track the corporate heartbeat. Many companies also provide “guidance,” or estimates of how earnings will fare in the future, and when a company misses those marks, the stock often suffers.
That, in the eyes of critics, is where the trouble begins.
For some companies, meeting quarterly estimates to bolster share prices begins to outweigh long-term planning, encouraging maneuvers that range from cheap short-term tricks (like stock buybacks) to self-destructive cuts—including reductions in R&D spending.
Those choices, in turn, can lead to weaker results. K.R. Subramanyam, an accounting professor at the University of Southern California, recently evaluated nearly 2,000 companies, focusing on “dedicated guiders,” those within each industry that issued guidance most frequently. Those companies met quarterly goals more often than their peers but also invested less in R&D—and generated lower earnings growth over the long term.
Data like this helped move the Business Roundtable, the lobbying group chaired by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, to join with Warren Buffett this summer in urging companies to provide guidance less frequently. The President’s proposal would go a step further by reducing the reports themselves.
Not everyone agrees that such changes would benefit investors. Some observers, including Subramanyam, believe that many companies would keep playing the guidance game even if reporting requirements were eased. They also argue that stock prices would exhibit more volatility around earnings announcements if those reports happened only twice a year.
旅游技术公司Expedia Group有45%的收入都来自美国本土以外。为了增加这一份额，公司在影响力有限的地区大力投入营销和发展。Wedbush的分析师詹姆斯·哈迪曼表示，尤其是在欧洲，该公司大大落后于旅游网站Priceline和Kayak的所有者Booking Holdings。投资者对Expedia打造市场的做法心存疑虑，该公司的股价去年也下跌了10%，不过随着更多细节得到披露，股价也有所好转。若公司在欧洲大获成功，投资者的情绪长期来看也会变得乐观。（财富中文网）
Still, some shareholders would probably benefit. Stocks of “higher quality” companies—those with stable management, healthy balance sheets, and track records of solid performance—would likely get a boost, since investors would trust them even if management “went quiet” for a while. And the biggest beneficiaries might be the market’s lab geeks—companies that devote a high percentage of their budget to R&D. After all, at any given time, you can find stocks that are getting clobbered by impatient investors because company leaders’ long-term plans are hurting short-term earnings.
Here are three R&D big spenders that are currently caught in that bind, and whose stocks could rebound as their research investments pay off. (That’s true, whether or not reporting rules change.)
The industrial giant 3M, famed for Scotch tape and Post-its, invests 6% of revenues in R&D—about double the level of the average industrial firm. Morningstar estimates that each of those dollars eventually generates $9 of profit. Still, that forecast hasn’t been enough to boost 3M’s stock, which is down 13% over the past six months. The company has also suffered from a slowdown in smartphone purchases in China, which has hurt sales of electronics that sport its optical film (used as protective covers on the devices), and the auto-sector slump has nicked its car-care product line. Still, 3M’s problems have nothing to do with execution, says RBC analyst Deane Dray, who says the stock deserves to trade at a premium to its peers.
Less frequent reporting could also benefit companies in mid-turnaround. Ford Motor, which PwC identifies as one of the auto industry’s largest R&D spenders, is a prime example. Ford has made big commitments to autonomous-vehicle research, putting it on a collision course with Silicon Valley. And it hasn’t yet launched a long-awaited revitalized product mix, which will include a new Explorer SUV and a relaunched Bronco SUV series. But if those efforts pan out, and Ford reduces other expenses, “the stock is undervalued,” says Morningstar analyst David Whiston. The rebound will likely take a while, but investors will get paid to wait; the stock’s dividend yield now stands at 6.4%.
Travel-tech company Expedia Group gets 45% of its revenue outside the U.S. To boost that share, it’s spending heavily on marketing and development in regions where its presence is limited—particularly Europe, where it lags Booking Holdings, owner of travel sites like Priceline and Kayak, by a significant margin, notes Wedbush analyst James Hardiman. Investors have been skeptical of the market-building, driving shares down 10% over the past year, but they’ve warmed up as more details have emerged. A big success in Europe could lift their mood in the long run.
A version of this article appears in the October 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “A Formula For Better Returns.”