For Samsung's overseas investors, the company's tight-lipped behavior is most visible in its quarterly results announcements. Though more forthcoming in recent years -- Samsung has held a quarterly English-language conference since 2001 -- its disclosure is stingy by international standards. Samsung's fourth-quarter announcement in January, in which it touted $10 billion in annual profit, was eight paragraphs long and contained two short tables. Supplemental information provided to financial analysts contained mostly generic industry data. Only once a year does Samsung consolidate the results of its non-Korean operations, the only time investors get a full picture of its performance. As a result, Samsung's stock doesn't perform as well as some of its peers. Currently, it trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of about 10 times its 2005 forecasted earnings per share, while Intel, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. trade at a multiple of about 18 or higher.Samsung has resisted foreign listings for a long time, but now some of its independent directors and foreign shareholders are pushing harder than ever to trade shares in America and Europe. Unfortunately, Sarbanes-Oxley gives Samsung executives another excuse -- in many ways a legitimate excuse -- to avoid an American listing.
It will be interesting to see how listings (and country-specific laws) impact the transparency and access to capital of our world's companies over the next twenty years. I, personally, think the more nimble countries & laws will win out on this battle. Is the US in that pack?