SEC Upgrades EDGAR Search Engine

EDGAR? Who's he?

EDGAR is the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. It's a tremendous resource for researchers; you can download the full text of a wide variety of US company filings in which the company discloses everything from the biggest risks they face to the ages and compensation packages of their top executives and, often, their share of the market. All this for free.

EDGAR has been around for years, but its search interface has just been given a dramatic upgrade. In the past, the only way you could search for filings was by typing in the company name or CIK (Central Index Key -the ID number the SEC uses to uniquely identify each company). That worked most of the time, but imagine what happened if you wanted to look up Johnson & Johnson.

The number of companies with "Johnson" in their name is, well, far too many for you to go through. On top of that, the search was actually run on the entire "header" of the filings, which included street names. Imagine what happened if you searched for 5th Avenue Channel Corp.

Fortunately, the SEC has made some significant improvements in its site. You can now limit your search to company name or CIK. Head over to the EDGAR Company Search form (link below) to search by company name, CIK, state or SIC (Standard Industrial Classification code.)

What's also surprising is that the SEC no longer embargoes its filings; you can now see companies' filings as soon as they're filed. In the past, the SEC would embargo their filings for 24 hours, as a sop to the professional and fee-based online services that were making money selling real-time access to filings.

Well, now it's there for you for free.


EDGAR Company Search
Search the EDGAR database by company name, CIK, state or SIC (Standard Industrial Classification code.)

Mary Ellen Bates is the principal of Bates Information Services, a research and consulting business based in Washington, DC. Her email address is

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