If you wanted to find out what Toyota Motor Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and Canon Inc. earned last year before they reported their results, the best guide wasn't analyst or company predictions. It was the Nikkei newspaper.

The business daily printed full-year profit figures for Japan's biggest car, phone and camera makers before they released financial statements, without saying where it got the information. It did the same thing for more than 40 other firms in the Nikkei 225, posting a record of accuracy that beat analysts' estimates and the companies' own forecasts.

Investors in the Japanese equity market are conditioned to treat the stories as something approaching gospel, an artifact of days past when businesses used the media to publicize results before market regulations were enacted to prevent it.