NERA Economic Consulting and Cornerstone Research (in conjunction with the Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse) have released their 2013 annual reports on securities class action filings. As usual, the different methodologies employed by the two organizations have led to different numbers, although they both identify the same general trends.
The findings for 2013 include:
(1) The reports agree that filings have increased by a slight amount. NERA finds that there were 234 filings (compared with 213 filings in 2012), while Cornerstone finds that there were 166 filings (compared with 152 filings in 2012). NERA normally has a higher filings number due to its counting methodology (see footnote 2 of the NERA report).
(2) The reports note that the number of companies listed on U.S. exchanges has declined nearly 50% from 1996 to 2013, but draw different (albeit not contradictory) conclusions from this statistic. NERA states that “the implication of this decline is that an average company listed in the US was 83% more likely to be the target of a securities class action in 2013 than in the first five years after the passage of the PSLRA.” Cornerstone, in contrast, points to this decline as “one explanation for the recent relatively low levels of filing activity compared with historical averages.”
(3) The Cornerstone report offers a new analysis of class certification trends. It notes that between 2002 and 2010, class certification was denied for reasons based on the merits of the motion (e.g., typicality, predominance, etc.) in less than two dozen cases.
(4) NERA found a sharp increase in the average settlement amount in 2013, reaching a new record of $55 million. The median settlement amount, however, decreased 26% to $9.1 million. NERA concludes that “a few large settlements drove the average up, while many small settlements drove the median down.”