A ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has clarified which legal responsibilities an issuer of stock has when it hires outside analysts to write glowing reviews of its stock. The federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the company and against a class of shareholders, stating that the company did not have an obligation to shareholders or potential shareholders to disclose its business relationship with the analysts. Since the company’s nondisclosure wasn’t improper, and its plan of hiring analysts to tout its stock wasn’t an illegal price manipulation scheme, that meant the shareholders had no basis for their lawsuit. Whether your shareholder dispute involves a well-established legal claim or an issue of law that is unsettled (as this one was), it pays to have experienced Georgia business attorneys representing you in your case.
The lawsuit was a class action launched by shareholders of a small pharmaceutical firm based in Norcross. The company made several stock offerings in 2013 and 2014. During that same time, the company retained multiple outside entities to promote or tout the value of the company’s stock as a good buy. The promoters published articles with headlines that urged “Investors Should Consider” the company’s stock (as a purchase). Several of the articles did not indicate anywhere within them that they were authored by companies hired by the pharmaceutical company itself. The goal was to pump up the company’s stock prices, but the stockholders in the lawsuit did not allege that the firm engaged in a “pump-and-dump” scheme.
After the firm’s stock promotion scheme was exposed by other analysts, however, its stock prices collapsed from almost $16 a share to just over $7 per share. The shareholders sued.