Monday, April 06, 2009

Tricky French Disclosure Total Petroleum

Total (TOT) issued a press release on Friday which only goes to show how we need to integrate disclosure standards on an international basis. Total of course is a mega huge international petroleum company and has many things to disclose which are of vital interest to shareholders. Q4 and year end numbers were release several months ago.

But this time they have filed with French authorities a requisite document that contains the annual financial report, the report by the Chairman of the Board of Directors required under Article L. 225-37 of the French Commercial Code (corporate governance, internal control and risk management), the reports from the independent auditors and their fees, and a description of the share buyback program. The documents are available from their web site if you care to follow links and download, then read, then comprehend.

At the same time the company has filed their annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2008, with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday April 3, 2009. Again free downloads are available.

Legally they are on side in several jurisdictions that are not regulatory congruent. But the investor needs to do a lot of work in comparing documents before the entire picture is congruent. But before you get too upset Q1 results are coming out in May 6, 2009 followed by the annual meeting on May 15. The timing is the oldest trick in the book. Hold the regulatory necessary meeting to review last year, but focus investors on the latest quarter which of course is only the first quarter and not the full year.

Investors may have a generalized feeling that its hard to get a handle on the Total picture.