AUSTIN, Tex. -- Issuers that voluntarily agree to do secondary market disclosure could help slow the movement to mandate such reporting and at the same time earn themselves lower borrowing costs, a top municipal analyst said yesterday.
Mary Jo Ochson, chairwoman of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, told a first-ever gathering of the State Debt Management Network here yesterday that better on-going disclosure could trim as much as five basis points off long-term borrowing costs if issuers take the time to educate the market. The network is an outgrowth of the National Association of State Treasurers.
"I think we might be able to trigger some pricing differential," she said during as session on disclosure and investor relations.
Another panelist, Bart Hildreth, a professor at Louisiana State University, said that so far more information is not likely to mean better pricings. "I can't report that disclosure means anything to your cost of capital," he said.
Ms. Ochson, a vice president and portfolio manager for Federated Investors, said that since the fall her analysts group has been encouraging issuers to agree to include in offering documents a commitment to continue secondary market disclosure.
She said the analysts group would maintain a list of those issuers and make it available to all investors. This could mean better primary and secondary market pricing for the bonds of issuers willing to make on-going, disclosure, she noted. The National Federation of Municipal Analysts would not maintain information about issuers.
Lesser-known credits could benefit more than major players in the credit markets such as California or New York, Ms. Ochson said, adding, "If it becomes established, no one will want to buy bonds from issuers that don't do it."
Mr. Hildreth urged a movement toward more uniform and timely financial disclosures to the bond market. He suggested that government agencies might benefit if they made disclosures similar to the quarterly, annual and special reports that publicly held companies must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission.