What Every Investor Needs to Know About EDGAR

September 2, 20236 min read
What Every Investor Needs to Know About EDGAR
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Key Takeaways

  • Dubbed EDGAR, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system handles submissions by companies and broker-dealers who must, by law, file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • The system’s chief purpose is to heighten the security market’s fairness and efficiency for investors as well as companies analysts, and the overall economy.
  • Investors and finance professionals depend on SEC filings to help them make informed decisions about where to take positions.

Be it a strategy, metric, or some other tool, investors are always hunting for a competitive edge. Enter EDGAR, a catchy acronym for what is an important platform that many investors use to help them make smarter decisions. Here is what every investor needs to know about EDGAR.  

Defining EDGAR

Dubbed EDGAR, the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system handles submissions by companies and broker-dealers who must, by law, file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The system’s performances include collecting, validating, indexing, accepting, and forwarding of the submissions. 

The SEC was created in 1934 to help boost investor confidence on the heels of the stock market crash of 1929. The independent government agency is responsible for protecting investors, maintaining market order and fairness, and facilitating the formation of capital. To monitor and improve compliance, it selectively reviews submissions.

Purpose of EDGAR

The system’s chief purpose is to heighten the security market’s fairness and efficiency for investors as well as companies analysts, and the overall economy. This is accomplished by speeding the receipt, acceptance, dissemination, and evaluation of time-sensitive corporate data filed with the SEC,  

Users of EDGAR

Investors and finance professionals depend on SEC filings to help them make informed decisions about where to take positions. On EDGAR – the SEC’s online database – such filings may be accessed for free by investors and the public at large.

Registration statements (more on those below) help investors and analysts understand what newly issued bonds or shares are about. After all, they contain information such as a description of the offered security, a description of the business and assets, the identities and biographies of company management, and the latest financial statements.

In all, the SEC filings ensure regulatory compliance and provide investors and others need-to-know information.

Filing Requirements

As of May 6, 1996, public companies and broker-dealers in the U.S. are required to file their documents with EDGAR to provide key information to investors as well as prospective investors.

Advantages and Pitfalls

As with most anything in the finance and investing world, there are pros and cons of using EDGAR, depending on the party in question.

For investors, the company’s prospectus offers all the information needed to make a quantitative assessment of a new security’s potential. In addition, the legal document can also include information that investors can interpret as prospective red flags, such as thinly veiled language regarding risks the company faces.

A pitfall is that EDGAR may not be searched by securities type. For example, an investor cannot look for securities offered on a certain exchange or other securities market.

Types of Accessible Documents

There are various types of documents that can be accessed through EDGAR.

Registration Statements

Contained in Form S-1, such statements have information about securities a company is offering in addition to its financial state. 

The statement will include the company’s prospectus, which must include details concerning the company’s business operations, management, operational performance, financial state, risk factors, operational results, and other relevant information. For example, the yearly 10-K report provides a complete summary of a company’s financial performance.

The statement is required of all U.S. companies looking to raise money for new products. An independent audit is required of some items such as the company’s income statement. In addition, the company could include in the statement any other pertinent information such as recent sales of unregistered securities.

Other common SEC filings include Form 10-Q; the proxy statement; Forms 3, 4, 5; Form 114, Schedule 13, and Foreign Investment Disclosures. Form 8-K is for notation of major actions such as stock option adjustments and earning releases, asset acquisition, bankruptcy filing, or executive appointments. Note that the proxy statement is where investors can learn the location of a company’s annual shareholders meeting and what issues will be voted upon.

Time Range of Database

EDGAR’s archival database goes back to 1994 or 1995, with paper documents filed before that available through the Freedom of Information Act.

EDGAR operates from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays, except for federal holidays.

Security Measures

While EDGAR does have robust safety measures in place, EDGAR was compromised in 2016 when Ukrainian hacker Oleksandr Leremenko gained access to the system, extracting files containing nonpublic earnings results. Individuals apprised of the information used it to trade and make at least $4.1 million in illegal profits.

Currently, EDGAR incorporates several robust security measures to safeguard sensitive information. It employs strict access controls to limit data visibility only to authorized individuals, which helps ensure confidentiality. The system also uses encryption to secure data during transmission, providing an additional layer of protection. Plus, EDGAR maintains comprehensive audit trails, which are critical for monitoring and detecting any unauthorized access or alterations to the data. Regular updates to the system are implemented to address emerging security vulnerabilities and enhance data protection.

EDGAR, Alternative Assets, and Diversification

While EDGAR can be invaluable for investments in public markets, private-market investments through alternative asset classes such as art and real estate are increasingly popular for their ability to reduce portfolio volatility and protect against inflation.

Alternative assets such as the highly vetted offerings provided by the investment platform Yieldstreet also serve another essential purpose: diversification, building a portfolio of assets of varying types can mitigate risk as well as potentially improve returns. In fact, diversification is a key pillar of long-term investing success.

Rise above Volatility

Diversify beyond the stock market with Yieldstreet.

Alternative Investments and Portfolio Diversification

Alternative investments can be a good way to help accomplish this. Traditional portfolio asset allocation envisages a 60% public stock and 40% fixed income allocation. However, a more balanced 60/20/20 or 50/30/20 split, incorporating alternative assets, may make a portfolio less sensitive to public market short-term swings. 

Real estate, private equity, venture capital, digital assets, precious metals and collectibles are among the asset classes deemed “alternative investments.” Broadly speaking, such investments tend to be less connected to public equity, and thus offer potential for diversification. Of course, like traditional investments, it is important to remember that alternatives also entail a degree of risk. 

In some cases, this risk can be greater than that of traditional investments.

This is why these asset classes were traditionally accessible only to an exclusive base of wealthy individuals and institutional investors buying in at very high minimums — often between $500,000 and $1 million.  These people were considered to be more capable of weathering losses of that magnitude, should the investments underperform.

However, Yieldstreet has opened a number of carefully curated alternative investment strategies to all investors. While the risk is still there, the company offers help in capitalizing on areas such as real estate, legal finance, art finance and structured notes — as well as a wide range of other unique alternative investments. 

Moreover, investors can get started with a relatively small amount of capital. Yieldstreet has opportunities across a broad range of asset classes, offering a variety of yields and durations, with minimum investments as low as $10,000.

Learn more about the ways Yieldstreet can help diversify and grow portfolios.

In Summary

It is important for investors, as they perform their due diligence, to understand how to read SEC filings, which contain information that is not included in corporate press releases.

Using EDGAR, which is free and easily accessible, like a seasoned professional can help investors make wiser investment decisions.

We believe our 10 alternative asset classes, track record across 470+ investments, third party reviews, and history of innovation makes Yieldstreet “The leading platform for private market investing,” as compared to other private market investment platforms.

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