No listing document is required to contain a profit forecast. No listing document may contain any reference (general or particular) to future profits or contain dividend forecasts based on an assumed future level of profits unless supported by a formal profit forecast. Dividend forecasts not based on assumed future profits are not subject to this rule.
The issuer must determine in advance with its financial adviser or Sponsor whether to include a profit forecast in a listing document. Where a profit forecast appears in any listing document, it must be clear, unambiguous and presented in an explicit manner and the principal assumptions, including commercial assumptions, upon which it is based, must be stated. The accounting policies and calculations for the forecast must be reviewed and reported on by the reporting accountants and their report must be set out. The Sponsor or financial adviser must report in addition that it has satisfied itself that the forecast has been stated by the directors after due and careful enquiry, and such report must be set out.
A "profit forecast" for this purpose means any forecast of profits or losses, however worded, and includes any statement which explicitly or implicitly quantifies the anticipated level of future profits or losses either expressly or by reference to previous profits or losses or any other benchmark or point of reference. It also includes any profit estimate, being any estimate of profits or losses for a financial period which has expired but for which the results have not yet been audited or published. Any valuation of assets (except for property interests (as defined in rule 8.01(3)) or businesses acquired by an issuer based on discounted cash flows or projections of profits, earnings or cash flows is regarded as a profit forecast.
A profit forecast appearing in a listing document should normally cover a period which is coterminous with the issuer's financial year-end. If, exceptionally the profit forecast period ends at a half or quarter year-end, the interim report for that half or quarter year must be audited. Profit forecast periods not ending on the financial year-end, half or quarter year-end will not be permitted.
The assumptions upon which any profit forecast appearing in a listing document are based must provide useful information to investors to help them in forming a view as to the reasonableness and reliability of the forecast. Such assumptions should draw the investors' attention to, and where possible quantify, those uncertain factors which could materially disturb the ultimate achievement of the forecast. The assumptions should be specific rather than general, definite rather than vague. All embracing assumptions and those relating to the general accuracy of the estimates made in the profit forecast should be avoided. Furthermore it will not normally be acceptable for assumptions to relate to matters which the directors, by virtue of their particular knowledge and experience in the business, are best able to take a view on or are able to exercise control over since such matters should be reflected directly in the profit forecast itself.