JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case requires us to apply the materiality requirement of § 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (1934 Act), 48 Stat. 881, as amended, 15 U. S. C. § 78a et seq., and the Securities and Exchange Commission's Rule 10b-5, 17 CFR § 240.10b-5 (1987), promulgated thereunder, in the context of preliminary corporate merger discussions. We must also determine whether a person who traded a corporation's shares on a securities exchange after the issuance of a materially misleading statement by the corporation may invoke a rebuttable presumption that, in trading, he relied on the integrity of the price set by the market.
Prior to December 20, 1978, Basic Incorporated was a publicly traded company primarily engaged in the business of manufacturing chemical refractories for the steel industry. As early as 1965 or 1966, Combustion Engineering, Inc., a company producing mostly alumina-based refractories, expressed some interest in acquiring Basic, but was deterred from pursuing this inclination seriously because of antitrust concerns it then entertained. See App. 81-83. In 1976, however, regulatory action opened the way to a renewal of
Beginning in September 1976, Combustion representatives had meetings and telephone conversations with Basic officers and directors, including petitioners here,
Respondents are former Basic shareholders who sold their stock after Basic's first public statement of October 21, 1977, and before the suspension of trading in December 1978. Respondents brought a class action against Basic and its directors, asserting that the defendants issued three false or misleading public statements and thereby were in violation of § 10(b) of the 1934 Act and of Rule 10b-5. Respondents alleged that they were injured by selling Basic shares at artificially depressed prices in a market affected by petitioners' misleading statements and in reliance thereon.
The District Court adopted a presumption of reliance by members of the plaintiff class upon petitioners' public statements that enabled the court to conclude that common questions of fact or law predominated over particular questions pertaining to individual plaintiffs. See Fed. Rule Civ. Proc. 23(b)(3). The District Court therefore certified respondents' class.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the class certification, but reversed the District Court's summary judgment, and remanded the case. 786 F.2d 741 (1986). The court reasoned that while petitioners were under no general duty to disclose their discussions with Combustion, any statement the company voluntarily released could not be " `so incomplete as to mislead.' " Id., at 746, quoting SEC v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., 401 F.2d 833, 862 (CA2 1968) (en banc), cert. denied sub nom. Coates v. SEC, 394 U.S. 976 (1969). In the Court of Appeals' view, Basic's statements that no negotiations were taking place, and that it knew of no corporate developments to account for the heavy trading activity, were misleading. With respect to materiality, the court rejected the argument that preliminary merger discussions are immaterial as a matter of law, and held that "once a statement is made denying the existence of any discussions, even discussions that might not have been material in absence of the denial are material because they make the statement made untrue." 786 F. 2d, at 749.
The Court of Appeals joined a number of other Circuits in accepting the "fraud-on-the-market theory" to create a rebuttable presumption that respondents relied on petitioners' material
We granted certiorari, 479 U.S. 1083 (1987), to resolve the split, see Part III, infra, among the Courts of Appeals as to the standard of materiality applicable to preliminary merger discussions, and to determine whether the courts below properly applied a presumption of reliance in certifying the class, rather than requiring each class member to show direct reliance on Basic's statements.
The 1934 Act was designed to protect investors against manipulation of stock prices. See S. Rep. No. 792, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., 1-5 (1934). Underlying the adoption of extensive disclosure requirements was a legislative philosophy: "There cannot be honest markets without honest publicity. Manipulation and dishonest practices of the market place thrive upon mystery and secrecy." H. R. Rep. No. 1383, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., 11 (1934). This Court "repeatedly has described the `fundamental purpose' of the Act as implementing a `philosophy of full disclosure.' " Santa Fe Industries, Inc. v. Green, 430 U.S. 462, 477-478 (1977), quoting SEC v. Capital Gains Research Bureau, Inc., 375 U.S. 180, 186 (1963).
Pursuant to its authority under § 10(b) of the 1934 Act, 15 U. S. C. § 78j, the Securities and Exchange Commission promulgated Rule 10b-5.
The Court previously has addressed various positive and common-law requirements for a violation of § 10(b) or of Rule 10b-5. See, e. g., Santa Fe Industries, Inc. v. Green, supra ("manipulative or deceptive" requirement of the statute); Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, supra ("in connection with the purchase or sale" requirement of the Rule); Dirks v. SEC, 463 U.S. 646 (1983) (duty to disclose); Chiarella v. United States, 445 U.S. 222 (1980) (same); Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, supra (scienter). See also Carpenter v. United States, 484 U.S. 19 (1987) (confidentiality). The Court also explicitly has defined a standard of materiality under the securities laws, see TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., 426 U.S. 438 (1976), concluding in the proxy-solicitation context that "[a]n omitted fact is material if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable shareholder would consider it important in deciding how to vote." Id., at 449.
The application of this materiality standard to preliminary merger discussions is not self-evident. Where the impact of the corporate development on the target's fortune is certain and clear, the TSC Industries materiality definition admits straightforward application. Where, on the other hand, the event is contingent or speculative in nature, it is difficult to ascertain whether the "reasonable investor" would have considered the omitted information significant at the time. Merger negotiations, because of the ever-present possibility that the contemplated transaction will not be effectuated, fall into the latter category.
Petitioners urge upon us a Third Circuit test for resolving this difficulty.
Three rationales have been offered in support of the "agreement-in-principle" test. The first derives from the concern expressed in TSC Industries that an investor not be overwhelmed by excessively detailed and trivial information, and focuses on the substantial risk that preliminary merger discussions may collapse: because such discussions are inherently tentative, disclosure of their existence itself could mislead investors and foster false optimism. See Greenfield v. Heublein, Inc., 742 F. 2d, at 756; Reiss v. Pan American World Airways, Inc., 711 F.2d 11, 14 (CA2 1983). The other two justifications for the agreement-in-principle standard are based on management concerns: because the requirement of "agreement-in-principle" limits the scope of disclosure obligations, it helps preserve the confidentiality of merger discussions where earlier disclosure might prejudice the negotiations; and the test also provides a usable, bright-line rule for determining when disclosure must be made. See Greenfield v. Heublein, Inc., 742 F. 2d, at 757; Flamm
None of these policy-based rationales, however, purports to explain why drawing the line at agreement-in-principle reflects the significance of the information upon the investor's decision. The first rationale, and the only one connected to the concerns expressed in TSC Industries, stands soundly rejected, even by a Court of Appeals that otherwise has accepted the wisdom of the agreement-in-principle test. "It assumes that investors are nitwits, unable to appreciate — even when told — that mergers are risky propositions up until the closing." Flamm v. Eberstadt, 814 F. 2d, at 1175. Disclosure, and not paternalistic withholding of accurate information, is the policy chosen and expressed by Congress. We have recognized time and again, a "fundamental purpose" of the various Securities Acts, "was to substitute a philosophy of full disclosure for the philosophy of caveat emptor and thus to achieve a high standard of business ethics in the securities industry." SEC v. Capital Gains Research Bureau, Inc., 375 U. S., at 186. Accord, Affiliated Ute Citizens v. United States, 406 U.S. 128, 151 (1972); Santa Fe Industries, Inc. v. Green, 430 U. S., at 477. The role of the materiality requirement is not to "attribute to investors a child-like simplicity, and inability to grasp the probabilistic significance of negotiations," Flamm v. Eberstadt, 814 F. 2d, at 1175, but to filter out essentially useless information that a reasonable investor would not consider significant, even as part of a larger "mix" of factors to consider in making his investment decision. TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., 426 U. S., at 448-449.
The second rationale, the importance of secrecy during the early stages of merger discussions, also seems irrelevant to an assessment whether their existence is significant to the trading decision of a reasonable investor. To avoid a "bidding war" over its target, an acquiring firm often will insist that negotiations remain confidential, see, e. g., In re Carnation
We need not ascertain, however, whether secrecy necessarily maximizes shareholder wealth — although we note that the proposition is at least disputed as a matter of theory and empirical research
We therefore find no valid justification for artificially excluding from the definition of materiality information concerning merger discussions, which would otherwise be considered significant to the trading decision of a reasonable investor, merely because agreement-in-principle as to price and structure has not yet been reached by the parties or their representatives.
The Sixth Circuit explicitly rejected the agreement-in-principle test, as we do today, but in its place adopted a rule that, if taken literally, would be equally insensitive, in our view, to the distinction between materiality and the other elements of an action under Rule 10b-5:
Even before this Court's decision in TSC Industries, the Second Circuit had explained the role of the materiality requirement of Rule 10b-5, with respect to contingent or speculative information or events, in a manner that gave that term meaning that is independent of the other provisions of the Rule. Under such circumstances, materiality "will depend at any given time upon a balancing of both the indicated probability that the event will occur and the anticipated magnitude of the event in light of the totality of the company activity." SEC v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., 401 F. 2d, at 849. Interestingly, neither the Third Circuit decision adopting the agreement-in-principle test nor petitioners here take issue with this general standard. Rather, they suggest that with respect to preliminary merger discussions, there are good reasons to draw a line at agreement on price and structure.
In a subsequent decision, the late Judge Friendly, writing for a Second Circuit panel, applied the Texas Gulf Sulphur probability/magnitude approach in the specific context of preliminary merger negotiations. After acknowledging that materiality is something to be determined on the basis of the particular facts of each case, he stated:
Whether merger discussions in any particular case are material therefore depends on the facts. Generally, in order to assess the probability that the event will occur, a factfinder will need to look to indicia of interest in the transaction at the highest corporate levels. Without attempting to catalog all such possible factors, we note by way of example that board resolutions, instructions to investment bankers, and actual negotiations between principals or their intermediaries may serve as indicia of interest. To assess the magnitude of the transaction to the issuer of the securities allegedly manipulated, a factfinder will need to consider such facts as the size of the two corporate entities and of the potential premiums over market value. No particular event or factor short of closing the transaction need be either necessary or sufficient by itself to render merger discussions material.
We turn to the question of reliance and the fraud-on-the-market theory. Succinctly put:
Our task, of course, is not to assess the general validity of the theory, but to consider whether it was proper for the courts below to apply a rebuttable presumption of reliance, supported in part by the fraud-on-the-market theory. Cf. the comments of the dissent, post, at 252-255.
This case required resolution of several common questions of law and fact concerning the falsity or misleading nature of the three public statements made by Basic, the presence or absence of scienter, and the materiality of the misrepresentations, if any. In their amended complaint, the named plaintiffs alleged that in reliance on Basic's statements they sold their shares of Basic stock in the depressed market created by petitioners. See Amended Complaint in No. C79-1220 (ND Ohio), ¶¶ 27, 29, 35, 40; see also id., ¶ 33 (alleging effect on market price of Basic's statements). Requiring proof of individualized reliance from each member of the proposed plaintiff class effectively would have prevented respondents from proceeding with a class action, since individual issues then would have overwhelmed the common ones. The District Court found that the presumption of reliance created by the fraud-on-the-market theory provided "a practical resolution to the problem of balancing the substantive requirement of proof of reliance in securities cases against the procedural requisites of [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 23." The District Court thus concluded that with reference to each public statement and its impact upon the open market for Basic shares, common questions predominated over individual questions, as required by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a)(2) and (b)(3).
We agree that reliance is an element of a Rule 10b-5 cause of action. See Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U. S., at 206 (quoting Senate Report). Reliance provides the requisite causal connection between a defendant's misrepresentation and a plaintiff's injury. See, e. g., Wilson v. Comtech Telecommunications Corp., 648 F.2d 88, 92 (CA2 1981); List v. Fashion Park, Inc., 340 F.2d 457, 462 (CA2), cert. denied sub nom. List v. Lerner, 382 U.S. 811 (1965). There is, however, more than one way to demonstrate the causal connection. Indeed, we previously have dispensed with a requirement of positive proof of reliance, where a duty to disclose material information had been breached, concluding that the necessary nexus between the plaintiffs' injury and the defendant's wrongful conduct had been established. See Affiliated Ute Citizens v. United States, 406 U. S., at 153-154. Similarly, we did not require proof that material omissions or misstatements in a proxy statement decisively affected voting, because the proxy solicitation itself, rather than the defect in the solicitation materials, served as an essential link in the transaction. See Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite Co., 396 U.S. 375, 384-385 (1970).
The modern securities markets, literally involving millions of shares changing hands daily, differ from the face-to-face
Accord, e. g., Peil v. Speiser, 806 F. 2d, at 1161 ("In an open and developed market, the dissemination of material misrepresentations or withholding of material information typically affects the price of the stock, and purchasers generally rely on the price of the stock as a reflection of its value"); Blackie
Presumptions typically serve to assist courts in managing circumstances in which direct proof, for one reason or another, is rendered difficult. See, e. g., 1 D. Louisell & C. Mueller, Federal Evidence 541-542 (1977). The courts below accepted a presumption, created by the fraud-on-the-market theory and subject to rebuttal by petitioners, that persons who had traded Basic shares had done so in reliance on the integrity of the price set by the market, but because of petitioners' material misrepresentations that price had been fraudulently depressed. Requiring a plaintiff to show a speculative state of facts, i. e., how he would have acted if omitted material information had been disclosed, see Affiliated Ute Citizens v. United States, 406 U. S., at 153-154, or if the misrepresentation had not been made, see Sharp v. Coopers & Lybrand, 649 F.2d 175, 188 (CA3 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 938 (1982), would place an unnecessarily unrealistic evidentiary burden on the Rule 10b-5 plaintiff who has traded on an impersonal market. Cf. Mills v. Electric Auto-Lite Co., 396 U. S., at 385.
Arising out of considerations of fairness, public policy, and probability, as well as judicial economy, presumptions are also useful devices for allocating the burdens of proof between parties. See E. Cleary, McCormick on Evidence 968-969 (3d ed. 1984); see also Fed. Rule Evid. 301 and Advisory Committee Notes, 28 U. S. C. App., p. 685. The presumption of reliance employed in this case is consistent with, and, by facilitating Rule 10b-5 litigation, supports, the congressional policy embodied in the 1934 Act. In drafting that Act,
See Lipton v. Documation, Inc., 734 F.2d 740, 748 (CA11 1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1132 (1985).
The presumption is also supported by common sense and probability. Recent empirical studies have tended to confirm Congress' premise that the market price of shares traded on well-developed markets reflects all publicly available information, and, hence, any material misrepresentations.
The Court of Appeals found that petitioners "made public, material misrepresentations and [respondents] sold Basic stock in an impersonal, efficient market. Thus the class, as defined by the district court, has established the threshold facts for proving their loss." 786 F. 2d, at 751.
Any showing that severs the link between the alleged misrepresentation and either the price received (or paid) by the plaintiff, or his decision to trade at a fair market price, will be sufficient to rebut the presumption of reliance. For example, if petitioners could show that the "market makers" were privy to the truth about the merger discussions here with Combustion, and thus that the market price would not have been affected by their misrepresentation, the causal connection could be broken: the basis for finding that the fraud had been transmitted through market price would be gone.
1. We specifically adopt, for the § 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 context, the standard of materiality set forth in TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., 426 U. S., at 449.
2. We reject "agreement-in-principle as to price and structure" as the bright-line rule for materiality.
3. We also reject the proposition that "information becomes material by virtue of a public statement denying it."
5. It is not inappropriate to apply a presumption of reliance supported by the fraud-on-the-market theory.
6. That presumption, however, is rebuttable.
7. The District Court's certification of the class here was appropriate when made but is subject on remand to such adjustment, if any, as developing circumstances demand.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is remanded to that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE KENNEDY took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
JUSTICE WHITE, with whom JUSTICE O'CONNOR joins, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I join Parts I-III of the Court's opinion, as I agree that the standard of materiality we set forth in TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc., 426 U.S. 438, 449 (1976), should be applied to actions under § 10(b) and Rule 10b-5. But I dissent from the remainder of the Court's holding because I do not agree that the "fraud-on-the-market" theory should be applied in this case.
Even when compared to the relatively youthful private cause-of-action under § 10(b), see Kardon v. National Gypsum Co., 69 F.Supp. 512 (ED Pa. 1946), the fraud-on-the-market theory is a mere babe.
At the outset, I note that there are portions of the Court's fraud-on-the-market holding with which I am in agreement. Most importantly, the Court rejects the version of that theory, heretofore adopted by some courts,
But even as the Court attempts to limit the fraud-on-the-market theory it endorses today, the pitfalls in its approach are revealed by previous uses by the lower courts of the broader versions of the theory. Confusion and contradiction in court rulings are inevitable when traditional legal analysis is replaced with economic theorization by the federal courts.
The "wrong turns" in those Court of Appeals and District Court fraud-on-the-market decisions which the Court implicitly rejects as going too far should be ample illustration of the dangers when economic theories replace legal rules as the basis for recovery. Yet the Court today ventures into this area beyond its expertise, beyond — by its own admission — the confines of our previous fraud cases. See ante, at 243-244. Even if I agreed with the Court that "modern securities
For while the economists' theories which underpin the fraud-on-the-market presumption may have the appeal of mathematical exactitude and scientific certainty, they are — in the end — nothing more than theories which may or may not prove accurate upon further consideration. Even the most earnest advocates of economic analysis of the law recognize this. See, e. g., Easterbrook, Afterword: Knowledge and Answers, 85 Colum. L. Rev. 1117, 1118 (1985). Thus, while the majority states that, for purposes of reaching its result it need only make modest assumptions about the way in which "market professionals generally" do their jobs, and how the conduct of market professionals affects stock prices, ante, at 246, n. 23, I doubt that we are in much of a position
Consequently, I cannot join the Court in its effort to reconfigure the securities laws, based on recent economic theories, to better fit what it perceives to be the new realities of financial markets. I would leave this task to others more equipped for the job than we.
At the bottom of the Court's conclusion that the fraud-on-the-market theory sustains a presumption of reliance is the assumption that individuals rely "on the integrity of the market price" when buying or selling stock in "impersonal, well-developed market[s] for securities." Ante, at 247. Even if I was prepared to accept (as a matter of common sense or general understanding) the assumption that most persons buying or selling stock do so in response to the market price, the fraud-on-the-market theory goes further. For in adopting a "presumption of reliance," the Court also assumes that buyers and sellers rely — not just on the market price — but on the "integrity" of that price. It is this aspect of the fraud-on-the-market hypothesis which most mystifies me.
To define the term "integrity of the market price," the majority quotes approvingly from cases which suggest that investors are entitled to " `rely on the price of a stock as a reflection of its value.' " Ante, at 244 (quoting Peil v. Speiser, 806 F.2d 1154, 1161 (CA3 1986)). But the meaning of this phrase eludes me, for it implicitly suggests that stocks have some "true value" that is measurable by a standard other than their market price. While the scholastics of medieval times professed a means to make such a valuation of a commodity's "worth,"
I do not propose that the law retreat from the many protections that § 10(b) and Rule 10b-5, as interpreted in our prior cases, provide to investors. But any extension of these laws, to approach something closer to an investor insurance
Congress has not passed on the fraud-on-the-market theory the Court embraces today. That is reason enough for us to abstain from doing so. But it is even more troubling that, to the extent that any view of Congress on this question can be inferred indirectly, it is contrary to the result the majority reaches.
In the past, the scant legislative history of § 10(b) has led us to look at Congress' intent in adopting other portions of the Securities Exchange Act when we endeavor to discern the limits of private causes of action under Rule 10b-5. See, e. g., Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U.S. 185, 204-206 (1976). A similar undertaking here reveals that Congress flatly rejected a proposition analogous to the fraud-on-the-market theory in adopting a civil liability provision of the 1934 Act.
Section 18 of the Act expressly provides for civil liability for certain misleading statements concerning securities. See 15 U. S. C. § 78r(a). When the predecessor of this section was first being considered by Congress, the initial draft of the provision allowed recovery by any plaintiff "who shall have purchased or sold a security the price of which may have been affected by such [misleading] statement." See S. 2693, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., § 17(a) (1934). Thus, as initially drafted, the precursor to the express civil liability provision of the 1934 Act would have permitted suits by plaintiffs based solely on the fact that the price of the securities they bought or sold was affected by a misrepresentation: a theory closely akin to the Court's holding today.
Yet this provision was roundly criticized in congressional hearings on the proposed Securities Exchange Act, because it failed to include a more substantial "reliance" requirement.
Congress thus anticipated meaningful proof of "reliance" before civil recovery can be had under the Securities Exchange Act. The majority's adoption of the fraud-on-the-market theory effectively eviscerates the reliance rule in actions brought under Rule 10b-5, and negates congressional intent to the contrary expressed during adoption of the 1934 Act.
A second congressional policy that the majority's opinion ignores is the strong preference the securities laws display for widespread public disclosure and distribution to investors of material information concerning securities. This congressionally adopted policy is expressed in the numerous and varied disclosure requirements found in the federal securities
Yet observers in this field have acknowledged that the fraud-on-the-market theory is at odds with the federal policy favoring disclosure. See, e. g., Black, 62 N. C. L. Rev., at 457-459. The conflict between Congress' preference for disclosure and the fraud-on-the-market theory was well expressed by a jurist who rejected the latter in order to give force to the former:
It is no surprise, then, that some of the same voices calling for acceptance of the fraud-on-the-market theory also favor dismantling the federal scheme which mandates disclosure. But to the extent that the federal courts must make a choice between preserving effective disclosure and trumpeting the new fraud-on-the-market hypothesis, I think Congress has spoken clearly — favoring the current prodisclosure policy. We should limit our role in interpreting § 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 to one of giving effect to such policy decisions by Congress.
Finally, the particular facts of this case make it an exceedingly poor candidate for the Court's fraud-on-the-market theory,
Respondents here are a class of sellers who sold Basic stock between October 1977 and December 1978, a 14-month period. At the time the class period began, Basic's stock was trading at $20 a share (at the time, an all-time high); the last members of the class to sell their Basic stock got a price of just over $30 a share. App. 363, 423. It is indisputable that virtually every member of the class made money from his or her sale of Basic stock.
The oddities of applying the fraud-on-the-market theory in this case are manifest. First, there are the facts that the plaintiffs are sellers and the class period is so lengthy — both are virtually without precedent in prior fraud-on-the-market cases.
Second, there is the fact that in this case, there is no evidence that petitioner Basic's officials made the troublesome misstatements for the purpose of manipulating stock prices, or with any intent to engage in underhanded trading of Basic stock. Indeed, during the class period, petitioners do not
Third, there are the peculiarities of what kinds of investors will be able to recover in this case. As I read the District Court's class certification order, App. to Pet. for Cert. 123a-126a; ante, at 228-229, n. 5, there are potentially many persons who did not purchase Basic stock until after the first false statement (October 1977), but who nonetheless will be able to recover under the Court's fraud-on-the-market theory. Thus, it is possible that a person who heard the first corporate misstatement and disbelieved it — i. e., someone who purchased Basic stock thinking that petitioners' statement was false — may still be included in the plaintiff-class on remand. How a person who undertook such a speculative stock-investing strategy — and made $10 a share doing so (if he bought on October 22, 1977, and sold on December 15, 1978) — can say that he was "defrauded" by virtue of his reliance on the "integrity" of the market price is beyond me.
Indeed, the facts of this case lead a casual observer to the almost inescapable conclusion that many of those who bought or sold Basic stock during the period in question flatly disbelieved the statements which are alleged to have been "materially misleading." Despite three statements denying that merger negotiations were underway, Basic stock hit record-high after record-high during the 14-month class period. It seems quite possible that, like Casca's knowing disbelief of Caesar's "thrice refusal" of the Crown,
And who will pay the judgments won in such actions? I suspect that all too often the majority's rule will "lead to large judgments, payable in the last analysis by innocent investors, for the benefit of speculators and their lawyers." Cf. SEC v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., 401 F.2d 833, 867 (CA2 1968) (en banc) (Friendly, J., concurring), cert. denied, 394 U.S. 976 (1969). This Court and others have previously recognized that "inexorably broadening . . . the class of plaintiff[s] who may sue in this area of the law will ultimately result in more harm than good." Blue Chip Stamps v. Manor Drug Stores, supra, at 747-748. See also Ernst & Ernst v. Hochfelder, 425 U. S., at 214; Ultramares Corp. v. Touche,
In sum, I think the Court's embracement of the fraud-on-the-market theory represents a departure in securities law that we are ill suited to commence — and even less equipped to control as it proceeds. As a result, I must respectfully dissent.
"[Basic] President Max Muller said the company knew no reason for the stock's activity and that no negotiations were under way with any company for a merger. He said Flintkote recently denied Wall Street rumors that it would make a tender offer of $25 a share for control of the Cleveland-based maker of refractories for the steel industry." App. 363.
On September 25, 1978, in reply to an inquiry from the New York Stock Exchange, Basic issued a release concerning increased activity in its stock and stated that
"management is unaware of any present or pending company development that would result in the abnormally heavy trading activity and price fluctuation in company shares that have been experienced in the past few days." Id., at 401.
On November 6, 1978, Basic issued to its shareholders a "Nine Months Report 1978." This Report stated:
"With regard to the stock market activity in the Company's shares we remain unaware of any present or pending developments which would account for the high volume of trading and price fluctuations in recent months." Id., at 403.
"It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, by the use of any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce, or of the mails or of any facility of any national securities exchange,
"(b) To make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading . . . ,
"in connection with the purchase or sale of any security."
It has been suggested that given current market practices, a "no comment" statement is tantamount to an admission that merger discussions are underway. See Flamm v. Eberstadt, 814 F. 2d, at 1178. That may well hold true to the extent that issuers adopt a policy of truthfully denying merger rumors when no discussions are underway, and of issuing "no comment" statements when they are in the midst of negotiations. There are, of course, other statement policies firms could adopt; we need not now advise issuers as to what kind of practice to follow, within the range permitted by law. Perhaps more importantly, we think that creating an exception to a regulatory scheme founded on a prodisclosure legislative philosophy, because complying with the regulation might be "bad for business," is a role for Congress, not this Court. See also id., at 1182 (opinion concurring in judgment and concurring in part).
We recognize that trading (and profit making) by insiders can serve as an indication of materiality, see SEC v. Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., 401 F. 2d, at 851; General Portland, Inc. v. LaFarge Coppee S. A., [1982-1983] CCH Fed. Sec. L. Rep. ¶ 99,148, p. 95,544 (ND Tex. 1981). We are not prepared to agree, however, that "[i]n cases of the disclosure of inside information to a favored few, determination of materiality has a different aspect than when the issue is, for example, an inaccuracy in a publicly disseminated press release." SEC v. Geon Industries, Inc., 531 F.2d 39, 48 (CA2 1976). Devising two different standards of materiality, one for situations where insiders have traded in abrogation of their duty to disclose or abstain (or for that matter when any disclosure duty has been breached), and another covering affirmative misrepresentations by those under no duty to disclose (but under the ever-present duty not to mislead), would effectively collapse the materiality requirement into the analysis of defendant's disclosure duties.
Given today's decision regarding the definition of materiality as to preliminary merger discussions, elements (2) and (4) may collapse into one.
The Abrams decision illustrates the particular pliability of the fraud-on-the-market presumption. In Abrams, the plaintiff represented a class of purchasers of defendant's stock who were allegedly misled by defendant's misrepresentations in annual reports. But in a deposition taken shortly after the plaintiff filed suit, she testified that she had bought defendant's stock primarily because she thought that favorable changes in the Federal Tax Code would boost sales of its product (insulation).
Two years later, after the defendant moved for summary judgment based on the plaintiff's failure to prove reliance on the alleged misrepresentations, the plaintiff resuscitated her case by executing an affidavit which stated that she "certainly [had] assumed that the market price of Johns-Manville stock was an accurate reflection of the worth of the company" and would not have paid the then-going price if she had known otherwise. Abrams, supra, at 92,157. Based on this affidavit, the District Court permitted the plaintiff to proceed on her fraud-on-the-market theory.
Thus, Abrams demonstrates how easily a post hoc statement will enable a plaintiff to bring a fraud-on-the-market action — even in the rare case where a plaintiff is frank or foolhardy enough to admit initially that a factor other than price led her to the decision to purchase a particular stock.
"Of all recent developments in financial economics, the efficient capital market hypothesis (`ECMH') has achieved the widest acceptance by the legal culture. . . .
"Yet the legal culture's remarkably rapid and broad acceptance of an economic concept that did not exist twenty years ago is not matched by an equivalent degree of understanding." Gilson & Kraakman, The Mechanisms of Market Efficiency, 70 Va. L. Rev. 549, 549-550 (1984) (footnotes omitted; emphasis added).
While the fraud-on-the-market theory has gained even broader acceptance since 1984, I doubt that it has achieved any greater understanding.
Consequently, while the Court considers it significant that the fraud-on-the-market presumption it endorses is a rebuttable one, ante, at 242, 248, the majority's implicit rejection of the "pure causation" fraud-on-the-market theory rings hollow. In most cases, the Court's theory will operate just as the causation theory would, creating a nonrebuttable presumption of "reliance" in future Rule 10b-5 actions.
Even if the fraud-on-the-market theory provides a permissible link between such a misstatement and a decision to purchase a security shortly thereafter, surely that link is far more attenuated between misstatements made in October 1977, and a decision to sell a stock the following September, 11 months later. The fact that the plaintiff-class is one of sellers, and that the class period so long, distinguish this case from any other cited in the Court's opinion, and make it an even poorer candidate for the fraud-on-the-market presumption. Cf., e. g., Schlanger v. Four-Phase Systems Inc., 555 F.Supp. 535 (SDNY 1982) (permitting class of sellers to use fraud-on-the-market theory where the class period was eight days long).