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Reporting on reporting season: a study of results announcements

Reporting season analysis

It’s that time of year again – reporting season.

We know this is a busy time for corporate comms teams, and so embarked on some recent analysis of financial results coverage to see what we could learn.

The following analysis looked at both half-year and annual results coverage for 20 companies from August 2020 and February 2021. We studied print and online items for a week leading up to, and a week after, the release of each company’s results, removing syndication to focus on the number of distinct stories written. Our search queries were quite broad and set up to capture stories specifically about results, as well as any stories about the companies that mentioned financial indicators such as revenue, profits, losses, etc.

Here’s what the 20 companies looked like, tracking volume by day for last year. You can see the significant spike that occurs on results day.

 

Here’s a few other things we found in the analysis.

‘Mainstream media’ accounted for just over half the coverage

Major metro publications made up 41% of coverage, while regional media made up 12%. The biggest portion though was ‘industry and other’ online publications which made up 47%.

This breakdown differed depending on factors such as mainstream metro media interest in each industry, and the relative size of their respective trade press. Some companies received up to 66% of coverage from non-mainstream sources, and some companies had as little as 2% from regional media. Metro media ranged from 30-48% of coverage. 

What does average look like?

The average number of media items for each company across a fortnight was 243. However this was skewed by particularly strong interest in several high-profile companies (the average across the top five companies was 360). The median (middle) item count for the 20 companies, which might be more representative in this case, was 167. 

The travel sector was of particularly high interest in the past year due to COVID19. 

The average number of articles on results day itself was 65, the median was 48. 

The average trajectory of coverage

Starting from the release of a company’s results, approximately 50% of the next week’s coverage happens within 24 hours. The other half is spread out over remaining days, and can often depend on factors such as when competitors release their results, and when the weekend falls after an announcement. 

CEO profiles varied considerably

Overall, CEOs appeared in 23% of the stories we looked at from the fortnight covering company results announcements. 

However, there was considerable variation with some CEOs only present in 15% of coverage, vs 47% for our highest-profile CEO. 

Mentions of the CEO tended to peak within 24 hours of the results being announced but there was still large variation. For example, three large companies releasing their results on the same day last August, saw their CEOs appearing in 28%, 30% or 66% of articles respectively. 

When mentioned, the CEO was usually quite prominent, appearing within the first 200 words of an article 62% of the time. 

Profitability vs media interest

We thought it would be interesting to explore the relationship between the profit result announced and media coverage. For this, we used the Net Profit After Tax figure.

Certainly results at either end of the spectrum – unusually high profits or losses – attracted the most attention. However, for those companies in between there was no discernible correlation between the results themselves and the scale of coverage. It was more likely that companies that normally had a high media profile continued to do so during reporting season. 

Next steps 

Hopefully you found these insights useful. We plan to do a deeper version of this analysis after the upcoming reporting season, so please let us know what further information you would like to see.

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