Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scavenging at the SEC

I know that reading 10-Ks and Qs and all the other forms that the SEC requires public companies to file can be deadly boring, but they are also a rich and free source of story leads and investment info. For the raw materials, just click over to Edgar Online, the SEC's database of filings, enter your corporate target's name, and start downloading.

Interpreting the filings is labor intensive, so it pays to get a little education first. If you are a business writer, visit the National Center for Business Journalism and check out their free workshops and online seminars. The week-long, online 'Boot Camp' seminar taught by Chris Roush, asst professor of journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, is a great intro to ferreting through corporate filings.

If you aren't a journalist, get one of the many books on reading corporate financial reports. Michelle Leder's Financial Fine Print is a readable and uncomplicated place to start. And to get a better idea of why it pays to know how to read SEC filings, you also might want to start reading Leder's blog You'll be surprised at the stuff she digs up.

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