Database Quickies: Corporation Filings to SEC

Part of a series  on databases that add value to a daily story.

An international  company with a small plant aways from where I live announced it is closing that facility and  laying off 150 employees. The closure,  in a small town of about 8000 residents, became big news there and led one of the local TV newscasts that night.

In all the stories I read, saw or listened to,  no reporter mentioned that this same corporation ran a plant just 22 miles down the road from the one it was closing.  I’m guessing they didn’t know.

So how did I know? I skimmed through the company’s filings on Edgar, the online database of required company filings  at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Now I’m no business expert, but years ago I interviewed the New York Times’ business reporter Diana Henriques, @dianabhenriques,  who gave me tips on what forms would be most helpful to reporters:

  • Start your search on the 8th line on the left, "Search for "Company Filings".

    10-K, the annual report;

  • 10- Q, covering business operations,  property, finances, pending suits, and background on the officers;
  • 8-K,  for significant changes in the company such as a sale,  new management, or a court judgment.

The SEC publishes  a list of all the forms by number so you can look for others that might be interesting.

The site can appear a bit clunky to navigate as the interface isn’t intuitive. But if you spend 10 minutes one day with its tutorial learning to navigate it, then when you need a quick factoid or a new angle on that company, you’ll be able to maneuver through the site quickly.

Remember the SEC only requires these filings from companies who sell securities, including stock.

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