Gary Price, the information scout who produces The Virtual Acquisition Shelf & News Desk (http://resourceshelf.blogspot.com), dropped me a note recently to mention that SEC Info was back online. Hmm, I don't think I know about this one. There's SEC EDGAR, EDGAR Online, FreeEDGAR, LIVEDGAR, 10K Wizard, etc. So I went to check out the site, of course. Coincidentally, I needed filings for a Canadian company and was pleased to notice that my newly discovered site offered both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) EDGAR database and the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) SEDAR database integrated into a single free service (http://www.secinfo.com). It claims to be the only worldwide site with combined U.S. and Canadian filings.
Designed by Fran Finnegan, a former Wall Street investment banker, the service originally launched in March 1999 with U.S. filings and then later added the Canadian database. SEC Info is produced by the software development firm Finnegan O'Malley & Company, Inc., which is headquartered in San Francisco. The site experienced some problems in October 2001 and went down for a few months, but is back up now.
Here's how the site is described: "We've designed our service for business and Wall Street professionals who need the quickest access to important information: investment bankers, commercial bankers, money managers, research analysts, traders, brokers, investors, securities lawyers, accountants, CEOs, CFOs, product managers, et al. As such, we have no ads nor fancy graphics to distract you, take up bandwidth, or insult your intelligence, but instead offer our service on a subscription basis after you exceed a usage threshold."
I talked with Finnegan, who clarified that they are working out the details of a subscription business model that will be offered "in a month or two." (Actually, it's not really "they." This is essentially a one-person operation for the time being.) The service will remain free for the majority of its users. Only the heaviest serious users will be asked if they would like to sign up for a subscription. Finnegan says the fee will be no higher than what is charged by 10K Wizard or EDGAR Online. He also explained that his company has phased out of its software development business and is totally dedicated to the SEC Info site. He stressed the flexibility and ease of use of the site, and its superior capabilities compared to the competition. "I really know the content. The other systems are so superficial. Check on a name like Carl Icahn and you'll see the depth and the links that we offer."
Searching on the site is fairly broad ranging. I was used to having a choice of only company name or ticker symbol. Here, the single search box will accommodate searching by Name, Industry, Business, SIC Code, Area Code, Topic, ZIP, CIK, Accession Number, File Number, and Date. However, there's no way to specify. The system just (smartly) interprets the input.
You can also drill down or up hierarchically through the SIC Codes. It includes all 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-digit industries and 5- and 6-digit businesses. You can then, for example, see the list of the 137 registrants in SIC Industry 7375, Information Retrieval Services, which includes companies like EDGAR Online, ProQuest, Hoover's, Amazon.com, and Ask Jeeves.
SEC Info's proprietary technology has created within the documents and exhibits more than 1 billion hypertext links, which minimize the time and effort required by professionals to find what they're looking for. So, for example, a current 10-Q will link to a previous 8-K.
The linking is what really makes the service stand out from the competition. Some of the link features include the following:
- A linked Table of Contents for every filing and document that can be used to jump directly to any of the documents and topics within them
- Linked topics within each document and exhibit, such as Business, competition, Risk Factors, and Management's Discussion
- Intra- and inter-document links that allow users to jump around within a document and to documents incorporated by reference
- Relationship links between registrants, group members, owners, issuers, signatories, and agents
- SEC-file links for navigating the numbered "folders" into which transactions and reports are organized
- Links into the future for jumping to amendments and forward-referenced filings
The home page provides some interesting shortcuts to filings and lists. Some of these are Filings Re: Future Events (tomorrow and thereafter), IPOs, M&A Deals/Tender Offers, Insider Trading, and Recent Filings (today's, yesterday's, the day before). The site does not delete filings, even when the SEC and other EDGAR services do, and you can see the list of those and access all filings. The site also states, "These filings were corrected by the SEC/CSA and SEC Info, but not by other services."
SEC Info now takes its place among my options for free securities filings. It's good to have a choice. Donna F. Cavallini, manager of competitive knowledge for the large corporate law firm Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP, said: "The site is my favorite free SEC filing site, bar none. It's one of the few sites which still offers free downloading of alternative formats-e.g., RTF-and a free monitoring service. I also quite like the logical grouping of filings and exhibits by type, which makes looking for particular model language very easy."Price suggested that browsing categories from the top page could be an effective "what's happening"/CI tool. He said: "To be an effective user [of SEC Info] takes some time and practice. That's all. The price is right." He did share another tip, however, that he said I could pass along to readers. Some SEC filings are not filed via EDGAR and are therefore not accessible through the EDGAR database. But, he has found that MSN/MoneyCentral (http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/sec/filing.asp) and Thomson Financial Network are providing free access to non-EDGAR filings. Thanks, Gary.