Fewer investors are taking corporate America to court for fraud.
The number of new federal securities fraud lawsuits seeking class-action status fell to a 7-year low in 2012, according to a study by Stanford Law School and Cornerstone Research released on Wednesday.
Just 152 such lawsuits were filed last year, down 19 percent from 188 in 2011, mainly because of fewer lawsuits challenging mergers.
Last year's total is also 20 percent below the average of 190 for the period from 1997 to 2012.
Only 2005, when 120 lawsuits were filed, was a quieter year for new cases. And in last year's fourth quarter, just 25 new securities fraud lawsuits were filed, the fewest in any quarter since 1997, the first year included in the study.
Big companies also were sued less in 2012 than in prior years. Seventeen companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index were named as defendants in 2012, versus an average of 31 over the prior decade.
Mark Holland, a securities litigation
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