Japan in the filings…

I’ve just returned from the annual South by Southwest conference (or South by as most people in Austin call it), where I was on an interesting panel on the future of XBRL and got marketed to by every company (and their distant cousins). Despite the circus-like atmosphere — CNN had its own pop-up restaurant called the CNN Grill and GE (GE) was operating a solar-powered carousel (and handing out free gourmet ice cream sandwiches) — the tragic events in Japan were clearly on a lot of people’s minds.

As we’ve footnoted before, anytime there’s a large event — whether it’s political unrest in Egypt or the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, it’s a sure bet that sooner or later, it will wind up in the filings. In the case of the situation with Japan, which happened on March 11, it’s clearly sooner. On Friday, AU Optronics (AUO) was the first company to mention the earthquake in Japan (they were so early, there was no tsunami yet) filing this 6-K last Friday. Then on Monday, Sony (SNE), Hitachi (HIT) and Texas Instruments (TXN) began to trickle in with their filings. Toyota waited until Tuesday to file this 6-K which expressed the company’s “most sincere sympathy” and that car production would stop for three days. In its third quarter earnings release this morning, FedEx (FDX) said that “the near-term impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on operational costs, shipping patterns and the global economy is currently uncertain.”

But some of the companies mentioning the problems in Japan have been a bit unusual. Yesterday, Herman Miller (MLHR) filed this 8-K with its third-quarter earnings and wrapped the disaster along with several other world events as potential threats to economic stability: “However, the devastating earthquake in Japan, political unrest around the globe, and rapidly rising commodity costs make clear the many risks still facing the broader economy”. And Corning (GLW) first mentioned the situation in this proxy.

As of this morning, there have been 48 filings that have mentioned the situation in Japan in one way or the other. Given the turn of events, we expect to see many more. If you’d like to help with a contribution, here’s a link that Google (GOOG) has set up to various established non-profits that are providing assistance.

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