The heightened pace of securities lawsuit filings in 2008 (as previously noted here) continued in April, when there were 22 new securities class action filings. The subprime litigation wave was a significant factor in the filing activity level, as ten of the 22 cases were subprime or credit crisis related. Of the 10 subprime cases, seven pertained to auction rate securities.
The heightened April activity followed the increased activity levels in March. The March and April combined two-month total of 48 new securities lawsuit filings represents the largest two-month filing total since July and August 2004, when 51 new cases were filed.
According to Cornerstone Research (here), the average annual number of new securities class action lawsuit filings for the period 1996 through 2006 was 194. The total number of new 2008 year to date securities class action lawsuit filed through the end of April is 75. If the filing levels for first four months of 2008 were to continue for the remainder of the year, the year end 2008 total of new filings would be 225, which not only exceeds the 1996 to 2006 average, but is approximately the same number of filings as in 2002, the year of the corporate scandals. If the IPO Laddering cases are excluded from the analysis, the 2002 filing level represented the highest annual number of filings since the passage of the PSLRA.
First-Filed Tyco Opt-Out Case Partially Settles: As detailed on the Securities Litigation Watch blog (here), the first filed Tyco Opt-Out action has partially settled. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the State of New Jersey and several NJ pension funds (refer to the plaintiffs’ 373-page second amended complaint, here).
According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s April 30. 2008 press release (here), Tyco itself agreed to pay $73.25 million to settle the plaintiffs’ claims against the company’s former GC Mark Belnick and four former Tyco directors. The settlement does not relate to the plainiffs’ claims against former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski or former CFO Mark Swartz, as well as the plaintiffs’ claims against another former Tyco director and the company’s former auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers. A May 1, 2008 Law.com article discussing the settlement can be found here.
I have added the Tyco opt-out settlement to my table of opt-out settlements, which can be accessed here. A detailed list of the various pending Tyco opt-out cases, compiled by Adam Savett of the Securities Litigation Watch, can be found here.
Section 404 Compliance Costs Decline: According to a recent Financial Executives International survey of 185 publicly traded companies (press release here), Section 404 compliance costs were lower in 2007 compared to prior years. Because the study depends on survey results, and the composition of the survey participants varies from year to year, the survey does not permits absolute costs comparisons on a year to year basis. However, the survey does show that the number of internal and external people hours required to comply with Section 404 declined for survey respondents in 2007 compared to the prior hear. The auditors annual attestation fees also decreased as a percentage of the annual audit fee.
A May 1, 2008 Wall Street Journal article commenting on the survey report can be found here. The FEI Financial Reporting Blog discusses the survey report here.
Noises Off: While no one will mistake his letters for those of Warren Buffett, the annual letter of A.S. Perloff, the Chairman of Panther Securities P.L.C. register high on the entertainment value scale. The latest letter, part of the Panther 2007 year-end preliminary financial report, can be found here. To my ears at least, Perloff’s “ramblings” sound rather like the discourse from someone who might have had one glass of claret too many, but the letter is no less entertaining for that. Read and enjoy.