Company disclosures on the web are a useful tool to promote the efficiency of financial markets. Moreover, they can be a source of strategic financial communication. The objective of the study reported in this paper is to make an inventory of the information published on the web sites of companies listed in the Moroccan and Tunisian stock exchanges, and to compare the practices of those companies with those of their European counterparts. The study also seeks to identify the determinants of these disclosures.
The study develops a composite scale to measure the quality of web site disclosures. This scale is used to score the web sites of the top 91 companies listed on the Casablanca and Tunis stock exchanges in 2007. The quality of those web sites is compared with the quality of some web sites of European companies. A number of hypotheses relating to the determinants of web site quality are then tested using linear modeling techniques.
Two thirds of the firms listed in the Casablanca and Tunis stock exchanges have a web site (www.casablanca‐bourse.com). An average of 39.7 percent of Moroccan web sites and 19.4 percent of those from Tunisia meet the benchmark quality criteria used by this study, compared with between 48 percent and 61 percent for European firms. The average extended score is 32.80 percent; Moroccan firms score 38.34 percent on average, while Tunisian firms score 28.12 percent. The determinants of this information level are found to be accounting performance and the proportion of shares held by foreigners. Web site quality is also linked to firm size. Apart from those characteristics, no effect of the economic sector, the country or market performance could be detected.
The study presents an international comparison (north/south) and builds a novel scale in order to explain web disclosures. This is an area that has not previously been explored, and includes some financial markets that are under‐researched.
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