Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ross Stores Conflicted Disclosure

Ross Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST - News) reported Q3 earnings in a press release issued at approximately one hour before market open on Tuesday Nov 14, 2006 They indicated more complete details would be available on the conference call to be held the same day at noon ET. Reading first the press release and then secondly the transcript as provided by Seeking Alpha it would appear that much more substantive information was available on the conference call than in the press release.

In particular the comments of Mr. Michael Balmuth were significantly more comprehensive and dealt with higher supply chain costs, packaway units, markdown trends, shrinkage to name a few topics. The press release was very cursory. Management comments were certainly more meaty on the conference call.

Investors who could not dial into the conference call were at a significant disadvantage. The 8-K was filed at the same time as the press release. The question becomes how to apply Reg FD. If as and when more information comes out a company should issue press releases and the 8-K so as to keep all informed. So where is the line to be drawn.

In this case the stock dropped sharply during the conference call and never fully recovered during the remaining hours of trading. It closed 2.79% down for the day on approximately twice the daily average trading volume. The dividend yield is approximately 0.80%. Investors just lost over three years worth of dividend yield. The stock did not drop on the open when investors read the press release.