NERA Economic Consulting and Cornerstone Research (in conjunction with the Stanford Securities Class Action Clearinghouse) have released their 2014 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 2014 include:
(1) The reports agree that filings have stayed flat. NERA finds that there were 221 filings (compared with 222 filings in 2013), while Cornerstone finds that there were 170 filings (compared with 166 filings in 2013). NERA normally has a higher filings number due to its counting methodology (see footnote 4 of the NERA report).
(2) Cornerstone notes that companies in the S&P 500 were less likely to be targeted by a securities class action in 2014 than in any year measured (2000 through 2014). Not coincidentally, the dollar losses associated with the 2014 filings were significantly below the historical average.
(3) NERA found a sharp decrease in the average settlement amount to $34 million (down from $55 million in 2013, but the 2014 average is roughly the same as the 2012 and 2011 averages). The median settlement amount decreased 29% from $9.1 million (2013) to $6.5 million (2014). NERA also notes that while 59% of securities class actions filed between 2000 and 2010 were settled or dismissed within three years, the number of pending cases has been rising since 2011, “suggesting a slow-down of the resolution process over that period.”