A WEBSITE scheduling glitch at OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI) and a mistake by PR Newswire led to the halting of the company’s stock last week.
Barron’s blogger Eric Savitz pieces the story together:
Sometime after noon Pacific time on Thursday, the company inadvertently posted the announcement on the investor section of its Web site. The site had been scheduled to automatically update simultaneously with the release of the news on PR Newswire; but a glitch resulted in an early post. The company blamed “a third party server programming error.” The company pulled the announcement down a few minutes later, without apparently being seen by many people; nonetheless Omnivision then contacted the NASD and told them what happened.
The NASD in consultation with the company decided not to halt trading, but they did decide to expedite release of the information. Then there was a second glitch. PR Newswire, while getting ready to release the news, unintentionally emailed the information to the company’s distribution list for investor news. After that happened, trading on NASDAQ was halted, and the release was finally distributed on PR Newswire as usual.
The company’s IR director Steven Horwitz said the firm is changing its procedures for posting earnings information to a manual process to prevent the same thing happening again.
Why OmniVision’s next earnings release could be at risk
Well, let’s hope Mr. Horwitz is reading this because there’s another issue the company might want to take care of.
The URLs for OmniVision’s earnings releases are dead easy to guess. That could be a problem if the company is uploading its releases in PDF before posting links to them on its public website and sending out the information via PR Newswire, which it almost certainly is doing.
Unless the company is reading this and makes a change, I predict the URL for its next earnings release on August 27 will likely be:
http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY08 Q1 Earnings Release Final.pdf or http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY08 Q1 Earnings Release.pdf
How do I figure that? Simply by looking at the URL structure for the past few earnings releases:
http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY07 Q4 Earnings Release Final.pdf http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY07 Q3 Earnings Release.pdf http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY07 Q2 Earnings Release.pdf http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY07 Q1 Earnings Release Final.pdf http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY06 Q4 Earnings Release Final.pdf http://www.ovt.com/data/newsreleases/english/OVTI – FY06 Q3 Earnings Release.pdf
Pretty obvious, isn’t it? This is the kind of predictability that anyone can exploit to gain access to releases before they’re made public.
And while guessable URLs are not that common, they’re certainly not unusual either. In fact, I remember cases of people guessing URLs of earnings releases on corporate websites back in the late 90s, when companies were naive about the Web. I seem recall a couple of media outlets got into trouble for doing it.
This is the kind of issue we will pick up in our website reviews, which involve us reviewing your site page-by-page looking for things that most IR people wouldn’t even think to look for.