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Finding Business Information Online: SEC Filings

Tips, techniques & links to help you find answers for your research papers & projects

What are they?

SEC filings are company reports filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission.  The agency began requiring electronic submission of reports in the 1990s.  With some exceptions, all companies were filing electronically by early 1996.  Some companies' reports are available back to 1993.

EDGAR, Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval, is the name of the system/database of reports, http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml

Companies

Filings from the SEC may be obtained directly from EDGAR on their website, http://www.sec.gov.  Search by company name (first option).  After you've selected your company from the list of results, you'll have the option to filter the results by filing type. 

Some of the more useful forms:

  • 10-K
    • This is the annual report that most reporting companies file with the commission. It provides a comprehensive overview of the registrant's business. The report must be filed within 90 days after the end of the company's fiscal year.
  • 10-Q
    • The Form 10-Q is a report filed quarterly by most reporting companies.
  • DEF 14A
    • A proxy statement is a document which is intended to provide security holders with the information necessary to enable them to vote in an informed manner on matters intended to be acted upon at security holders' meetings, whether the traditional annual meeting or a special meeting.
  • 20-F
    • This is an integrated form used both as a registration statement for purposes of registering securities of qualified foreign private issuers under Section 12 or as an annual report under Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the '34 Act.
  • Forms 3, 4, & 5
    • Every director, officer or owner of more than ten percent of a class of equity securities registered under Section 12 of the '34 Act must file with the Commission a statement of ownership regarding such security. The initial filing is on Form 3 and changes are reported on Form 4. The Annual Statement of beneficial ownership of securities is on Form 5. The forms contain information on the reporting person's relationship to the company and on purchases and sales of such equity securities.

For a complete list of forms, go to http://www.sec.gov/info/edgar/forms/edgform.pdf.