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The Securities & Exchange Commission rules require the following presentation and construction requirements for a compliant performance graph. There is a specific calculation methodology involved and more information regarding SEC interpretations of specific instances is available from the SEC here:
§229.201 (Item 201) Market price of and dividends on the registrant’s common equity and related stockholder matters.
(e) Performance graph.
(1) Provide a line graph comparing the yearly percentage change in the registrant’s cumulative total shareholder return on a class of common stock registered under section 12 of the Exchange Act (as measured by dividing (i) the sum of (A) the cumulative amount of dividends for the measurement period, assuming dividend reinvestment, and (B) the difference between the registrant’s share price at the end and the beginning of the measurement period; by (ii) the share price at the beginning of the measurement period) with:
- (i) The cumulative total return of a broad equity market index assuming reinvestment of dividends, that includes companies whose equity securities are traded on the same exchange or are of comparable market capitalization; provided, however, that if the registrant is a company within the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index, the registrant must use that index; and
(ii) The cumulative total return, assuming reinvestment of dividends, of:
(A) A published industry or line-of-business index;
(B) Peer issuer(s) selected in good faith. If the registrant does not select its peer issuer(s) on an industry or line-of-business basis, the registrant shall disclose the basis for its selection; or
(C) Issuer(s) with similar market capitalization(s), but only if the registrant does not use a published industry or line-of-business index and does not believe it can reasonably identify a peer group. If the registrant uses this alternative, the graph shall be accompanied by a statement of the reasons for this selection.
(2) For purposes of paragraph (e)(1) of this Item, the term “measurement period” shall be the period beginning at the “measurement point” established by the market close on the last trading day before the beginning of the registrant’s fifth preceding fiscal year, through and including the end of the registrant’s last completed fiscal year. If the class of 322 securities has been registered under section 12 of the Exchange Act (15 U.S.C. 78l) for a shorter period of time, the period covered by the comparison may correspond to that time period.
(3) For purposes of paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(A) of this Item, the term “published industry or line-of-business index” means any index that is prepared by a party other than the registrant or an affiliate and is accessible to the registrant’s security holders; provided, however, that registrants may use an index prepared by the registrant or affiliate if such index is widely recognized and used.
(4) If the registrant selects a different index from an index used for the immediately preceding fiscal year, explain the reason(s) for this change and also compare the registrant’s total return with that of both the newly selected index and the index used in the immediately preceding fiscal year.
Instructions to Item 201(e):
1. In preparing the required graphic comparisons, the registrant should:
- a. Use, to the extent feasible, comparable methods of presentation and assumptions for the total return calculations required by paragraph (e)(1) of this Item; provided, however, that if the registrant constructs its own peer group index under paragraph (e)(1)(ii)(B), the same methodology must be used in calculating both the registrant’s total return and that on the peer group index; and
b. Assume the reinvestment of dividends into additional shares of the same class of equity securities at the frequency with which dividends are paid on such securities during the applicable fiscal year.
2. In constructing the graph:
- a. The closing price at the measurement point must be converted into a fixed investment, stated in dollars, in the registrant’s stock (or in the stocks represented by a given index) with cumulative returns for each subsequent fiscal year measured as a change from that investment; and
b. Each fiscal year should be plotted with points showing the cumulative total return as of that point. The value of the investment as of each point plotted on a given return line is the number of shares held at that point multiplied by the then-prevailing share price.
3. The registrant is required to present information for the registrant’s last five fiscal years, and may choose to graph a longer period in addition; but the measurement point, however, shall remain the same.
4. If the registrant uses a peer issuer(s) comparison or comparison with issuer(s) with similar market capitalizations, the identity of those issuers must be disclosed and the returns of each component issuer of the group must be weighted according to the respective issuer’s stock market capitalization at the beginning of each period for which a return is indicated.