Research Public Companies Through EDGAR: A Guide for Investors

This is a great introduction to resources that you can use to research any public company. All public companies must report their financials; quarterly reports, end of year tax forms, changes in top management, and so on. If you ever need to look up a company, this will give you the tools you need to navigate the public records system.


B. Understanding EDGAR Search Results

1. Why does more than one result appear when I type in certain company names?

Unless you use the exact name of a company, your search results will include companies whose names are similar to the company you are researching. An exception to this is when you use the mutual fund and variable insurance product searches for filings from February 6, 2006, or later. 

2. What is a CIK number? 

CIK numbers are unique identifiers that the SEC assigns to all entities and individuals that file disclosure documents. As noted in the EDGAR tutorial, you can search EDGAR by CIK number as well as by company name. You can identify a company's CIK number by using the EDGAR Central Index Key (CIK) Lookup. You do not need to include the leading zeros when typing in the CIK number. 

3. What is an accession number? 

The accession number is a unique number that EDGAR assigns to each submission as the submission is received. You cannot use accession numbers to filter for types of filings. 

4. Where can I find a description of SEC form types? 

Our website includes a description of form types that are filed through EDGAR. This table is organized by the statute that requires its use. For example, forms used by mutual funds would be included in the table of Investment Company submission types. Proxy material and periodic reports of SEC registrants can be found in the table for forms required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. 

5. Can I limit my search results to certain form types filed by a specific company? Yes. If you are using the Companies & Other Filers Search, after EDGAR returns the results for your search, you can narrow your search by form type or year. 

To limit filing results, enter form type or date (as 2002/05/23).


 If you are doing a Full-Text Search, the Advanced Search option allows you to narrow your search by form type. However, the search results may include additional documents such as exhibits to specific filings.

6. The Companies & Other Filers Search has returned the results for the company that I searched. What is the difference between the [text] files and the [html] files? 

EDGAR provides you with two options for reviewing files, [text] or [html] when using the Companies & Other Filers Search. If you choose the [text] option, you will see the form exactly as filed, in ASCII text format, including the header information. Note that a raw text filing may contain html coding so that some or all of the document and exhibits may display as html; in the case of some filings, the tags may be xml. In this case, the text filing will be difficult to read, the html version will be more helpful. If you choose [html], you can choose to view the entire submission, the filing without the header information, or individually the exhibits filed or furnished with the filing. 

Note that if you choose the [html] option, you may be given the choice of viewing an html version of the form or the complete submission. When you have the [html] option, the complete submission link is identical to the [text] format. 

7. What do the exhibit numbers mean? 

SEC registrants follow a numbering convention to identify Exhibit types for certain SEC forms. Item 601 of Regulation S-K and Item 601 of Regulation S-B include descriptions of the exhibit types and a table identifying what forms must include the specific exhibits. These exhibits include: 

  • Exhibit 2: Plan of acquisition, reorganization, arrangement, liquidation, or succession 
  • Exhibit 3: Articles of incorporation or by-laws 
  • Exhibit 10: Material Contracts 
  • Exhibit 14: Code of Ethics 
  • Exhibit 21: Subsidiaries 
  • Exhibit 99: Additional exhibits, often press releases filed on Form 8-K 
  • Exhibits 31 and 32: CEO and CFO certifications of quarterly and annual reports as required by Sections 302 and 906 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 

The examples provided above are all filings that are filed with the Form 10-K(as well as other filings).