While 404 may be the three most dreaded numbers that publicly traded companies in the U.S. can imagine, investors and analysts outside the country remained uniformed about the Sarbanes-Oxley rule on internal controls, and are concerned about the impact of negative disclosures. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of investors and analysts in North America, Europe and Asia who cover U.S.-listed companies, just 60 percent of analysts and investors in Europe, and a scant 40 percent in Japan, admit to some knowledge of SOX 404. Section 404 of SOX requires that the annual reports of all Securities and Exchange Commission-registered companies include a statement by management and the external auditors on the effectiveness of the company's internal controls over financial reporting. Big Four firm PwC polled 55 analysts, 45 investors and 5 credit rating agency analysts between January and February 2005. Some 39 percent of respondents were from the U.S., Mexico and Canada, 38 percent from Europe, and 23 percent from the Asia-Pacific region. Other findings include: o Only about one in four respondents claimed to have a good grasp of how Section 404 will affect mergers and acquisitions. o Nine out of 10 analysts and investors in Asia, where awareness is lowest, said that they would be very likely to sell or mark down shares in a company that was the subject of a negative disclosure, compared to seven in 10 respondents in Europe and the U.S.
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