Advice from ASIC and ATO on reporting and consensus

As the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolds and continued uncertainty becomes the norm, the Group of 100 (G100) will be engaging in conversation with the government bodies to help minimise and mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the Australian economy. 

We have put forward the questions about reporting and consensus we received from the G100 members to both ASIC and ATO. 

Advice received from Commissioner John Price:

ASX’s Guidance Note 8 (GN 8) in relation to individual analyst earnings forecasts and/or consensus estimates remains good guidance on this point.

GN 8 states listed entities have no obligation to correct individual analyst earnings forecasts, or consensus estimates to bring them into line with an entity’s internal projections. However, GN 8 recommends listed entities monitor individual analyst earnings forecasts and/or consensus estimates so that if material discrepancies emerge, the entities should consider why this is so and whether: 

  1. there is any information, not protected by the carve-outs from disclosure in Listing Rule 3.1A, that should have been, but has not been, disclosed under Listing Rule 3.1; or 
  2. it is an indication that the market has not fully appreciated the import of the entity’s previous announcements under Listing Rule 3.1, whether it needs to publish a further announcement with more information. 

For those listed entities that publish analysts’ earnings forecasts and/or consensus estimates on their website or ASX’s Market Announcements Platform (MAP), GN 8 makes it clear that entities must not exclude a single analyst’s forecasts without providing an acceptable explanation. Examples of acceptable explanations are the forecast does not reflect a material announcement or the most recent financial statements published by the entity and is therefore materially out of date, or it contains a manifest error. GN 8 also states an unacceptable explanation for excluding an analyst’s forecast would be a bare statement that the entity regards the forecast as an “outlier”. 

Despite only a few analysts withdrawing their forecasts, for those entities that do publish analysts’ forecasts on their website or ASX’s MAP, they may only exclude those forecasts in accordance with the guidelines in GN 8 otherwise they increase the risk that the published information could be regarded as de facto earnings guidance. 

Mr Price further said that they had put statements out about AGMs and they are keeping a watch on reporting. If you have any issues on this or any specific concerns, please don’t hesitate to call either of the heads of the ASIC Corporations Team: Rachel Howitt – 02 9911 5919 or Claire Labouchardiere – 02 9911 2226 

Advice from the ATO

Second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn has advised that those experiencing problems lodging or paying tax should call the ATO and seek guidance, and they will be assisted. Blanket extensions will not be granted.

Overpaid instalments can have the rate varied to nil and refunds for prior instalments are available without penalty. 

If people are worried about movements – caught here as expatriates or people overseas not being able to get back, please don’t delay, call the ATO for assistance. 

There will shortly be an announcement on global entity payments. Please watch the ATO website for further information.

Mr Hirschhorn said his overall message is that the ATO wants people focused on the important things and not being distracted by tax, if anyone, or organisation has an issue, please call the ATO. You will be passed through to the relevant officers who can assist.