The Securities and Exchange Commission may propose a rule next month to discourage companies from disclosing market-moving information to securities analysts before they release it to the general public, an SEC official said.
"It would open the flow of information to get into the hands of the many instead of the few," said Richard H. Walker, SEC enforcement director.
The SEC staff has been examining the agency's "selective disclosure" rules as part of a broader review of insider-trading regulations that began early this year.
The staff will recommend a rule that clarifies how a company should inform analysts and investors about earnings, production plans and other sensitive information that could affect its stock price, Walker said, answering questions at a New York session of a group called the Panel on Audit Effectiveness.
A new rule would ratchet up SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr.'s effort to coax business to voluntarily stop selective discussions with analysts and institutional investors that can move stock prices before other investors get the same information.
The commissioners, led by Levitt, will decide next month whether to issue the staff proposal for public comment. If they do, they will review the comments and decide whether to give final approval to the rule.
Levitt has called selective disclosure "a stain upon our market."
SEC staff members, led by general counsel Harvey Goldschmid, has been considering one proposal that would prohibit companies from disclosing information to select groups before or at the same time that they issue a news release. Another would create guidelines on how long corporate insiders must wait after a public announcement before they can begin trading.