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A Morningstar-Footnoted mixer…

In addition to reading the filings and keeping things hopping on this site, we’ve been busy this week with another project – sharing the spirit of footnoted.com with Morningstar’s readers.

When Michelle launched footnoted almost seven years ago, she did it with the hope that she could help others learn how to navigate the fine print in SEC filings. Those documents can be complex and intimidating, and more than a few companies have tried to bury some very big issues in some very tiny type.

Our mission is still going strong in 2010: We want to help people understand what’s in SEC filings so they can make better-informed investment decisions. That’s why this week, we wrote a series of articles for Morningstar.com, aimed at introducing newcomers to the world of SEC filings and a few of the delights they contain. Here are the articles and their respective links:

Uncovering Titanic Compensation” examines current executive compensation practices and how a base salary figure is truly just “the tip of the iceberg.”

Extravagant Perks Exposed” posits that perks have outlived their usefulness, and that the millions of dollars that companies spend to provide perks to their highest-paid executives could be spent more productively.

No Reason to Celebrate Related-Party Transactions” recognizes that blood may be thicker than water, but that a publicly-traded company should not be confused with a personal piggy bank. Once a company goes public, its executives and directors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. That duty imposes some ethical and regulatory limits on the kinds of deals they make and dictates whether the terms of those deals must be disclosed in the filings.

And finally, “Squeezing the Juice Out of Merger Filings” highlights some of the important sections in merger-related filings that investors need to read. The background of the deal is important, and so are the passages that disclose the interests of the officers and directors if the deal goes through.

We’ll keep a close eye on the filings that come in this afternoon, since some companies seem to hope that their disclosures will get lost in the excitement of the holidays. We wish you a happy and safe 4th of July weekend, and we’ll be back with more reports on Tuesday, July 5.

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Want to see more of what’s hidden in corporate filings? Check out FootnotedPro, where we highlight unusual opportunities and potential problems well in advance of the market. For more information or to inquire about a trial subscription, email us at pro@footnoted.com.