An SEC filing is a formal document, typically a financial statement, submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Public companies are required to make SEC filings regularly. Investors and financial professionals use SEC filings to evaluate companies they may want to invest in.
You can use these filings in your reporting to try to predict the direction the companies you report on are headed. One good way to do so is to look for Form D, Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities. This is a form privately held companies raising capital are required to file.
To look up a specific company, first go to www.sec.gov. Then, look for “Filings and Forms (EDGAR).” Click on “search for company filings.” Once you get to a screen called “Search EDGAR database,” click on “Companies and Other Filers.” You’ll be able to enter the name of the company there, or search by ticker symbol or CIK, which is the Central Key Index used by the SEC to identify corporation and individuals.
Another way to look through SEC filings is to spend a few minutes each morning to see what’s been added, and if it’s a company you cover. On the “Search and Access” page, click on “latest filings.” You can also look for daily filings by type. Spend some time poking around the SEC site to see what all of the other options are.
You can also use the service Sqoop to search for SEC filings in a specific location. Sqoop can also share news tips from the businesses themselves by matching company-submitted stories with reporters as part of a service companies pay for. Sqoop is free for journalists, but you do have to create an account and identify who you write for.
An additional source of information is Seeking Alpha, which is an award-winning crowdsourced content service for financial markets. It may have insight or analysis you can cite in your reporting or give you some potential sources to try to interview.
Once you’ve gotten the data you need from EDGAR, SeekingAlpha, Sqoop, your organization’s prior reporting or some combination of the four, you’ll want to put your findings in perspective. A great way to report on Form D filings is try to guess the importance of the product to the company revenue-wise, as well as strategically and financially. You can do that by digging into some specifics in the earnings and old transcripts of those companies.
In addition to reporting that a company is raising a certain amount of money according to an SEC filing from this month, and the product the company is commercializing, look to see which division of the company the product is in. How is that division doing? How much revenue is it responsible for, and what percentage of the company’s total revenue is it?
Next you’ll want to look at the previous rounds of fundraising, when those took place, and how much was raised. This, again, offers context. And though CEOs are unlikely to comment on specific filings, looking at this information as well as your previous coverage will give you background information for the next time you do land an interview.