IN A move that portends dramatic changes in how disclosures are disseminated online, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has added news feeds for every issuer and reporting person who files with the commission’s EDGAR database.
The development is potentially bad news for news release distributors such as Business Wire, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and PR Newswire, owned by UK-based United Business Media. These companies currently derive a large part of their revenues from charging companies to syndicate their disclosures to investors via their proprietary feeds.
Now, however, companies can ensure widespread syndication of their news to a multitude of institutional and individual subscribers simply by filing their news releases on EDGAR. The free news feeds — which use the Atom standards — give individual investors, large financial aggregators and popular investment websites one central source for corporate filings rather than having to source and sort news from a variety of different PR wire services.
|Investors and intermediaries can now be notified when new filings are made on EDGAR.|
Private sector filings firm EDGAR Online Inc., which currently supplies EDGAR updates to a variety of websites as a way to promote its subscription-based services and sell advertising, could also be hurt by the SEC’s new feeds. Partner sites like Yahoo! Finance, for example, can now draw headlines about the latest filings directly from the SEC’s EDGAR, which receives about 700,000 filings per year.
The addition of Atom feeds to EDGAR is part of a $54 million modernization program announced by the SEC in September 2006 that will ultimately ready the system to accept and display filings in the new XBRL financial reporting language.
At the time of awarding the upgrade contract, the commission said the new EDGAR system would “enable anyone to get real-time, streaming data using RSS feeds, ATOM, and other automated Web tools, which could automatically search for newly filed SEC disclosures and deliver the desired data directly to one’s desktop.”
That promise is now one step closer to reality. The SEC is providing a wide range of feeds for EDGAR data. Each issuer, such as a company or mutual fund, has its own feed. In addition, reporting persons such as company insiders have their own feeds. And a feed is available for the latest filings to the SEC from all sources.
Investors can subscribe to any of these feeds using a free web browser, feed reading software or they can add feeds to their web start pages, such as MyYahoo.
Currently, the EDGAR feeds include only generic filing headings, dates, and internal tracking numbers, which is less useful than providing a summary or the full text of each filing. Summaries or informative headlines would help users determine what a filing is about without having to visit EDGAR to view the filing in full.
Nonetheless, the EDGAR feeds are an effective way for investors to be notified when companies of interest to them file new information with regulators.
I cannot find any mention on the SEC website about when the feeds were added, but I know they weren’t there as late as Friday. There is no coverage on the Web about this development, so it might be that you’re one of the first to know.
Update: Been playing around with the feeds. Wonderfully useful. You can get feeds of just certain types of filings, or specific filings for a particular company. For example, I’ve just subscribed to a feed that alerts me when any companies file proxy materials under the new notice-and-access process. What a time saver!
Update 2: Well, you did read it here first. I posted this one hour and one minute before George at FatPitchFinancials, whose story is a good read.
Update 3: Some interesting perspectives on this story have been added by various people. Here are a couple:
Validating the SEC I just have to ask why the folks at the SEC didn’t seem to bother running their stuff through a validator.
“The SEC, they totally get it.” Imagine that any company (big or small) could create what amounts to something like a “stock ticker” and either read information provided by others or distribute information others would need.