The company had to restate its financial forecasts after releasing confidential information to analysis.
Error Type: Release of confidential information.
Reported on: January 2012
Drug maker AstraZeneca inadvertently issued confidential information in a spreadsheet which formed part of its release to analysts.
AstraZeneca said that the information was "out of date planning information". This did not stop the company's stock value dropping 0.4%.
What caused the error?
The company issued an Excel template to analyst, which included embedded confidential company information.
“Confidential company information was inadvertently embedded in a spreadsheet template sent to the sell-side analyst community that follows the company”.
This is quite a common issue with sharing spreadsheets. A firm favourite seems to be sharing models where confidential payroll data is included on a hidden worksheet. With the simple click of unhide the whole company gets to see everyone's payroll details.
How could the error have been avoided?
It might seem a bit obvious, but just don't put confidential information that you do not want to share in a spreadsheet that you are going to share.
Hiding a sheet doesn't count either!
I'd always recommend sharing the output reports in PDF format wherever possible. As long as you review the PDFs before you share them there is no risk of sharing anything that you didn't mean to.