Snowed in at the SEC…

January 6, 2011

There’s usually a time in late February — invariably on a Friday — when the folks here at footnoted begin to wonder what the hell we’re doing as we stare at several hundred filings in our inbox. Just like the little Dutch Boy, we often feel as if we’re trying to plug the hole in the dike with our fingers.

We were reminded of that feeling when we asked our corporate siblings at Morningstar Document Research to pull some numbers on SEC filings. The numbers, which have not been made public before, really illustrate both what we try to do here at footnoted and why a service like MDR (formerly known as 10KWizard) is so valuable to anyone who needs to read filings regularly.

Last year, there were 631,239 total filings at the SEC. That was up slightly from the 624,197 filed in 2009. Roughly 1/3 of those were insider-related filings (Forms 3,4 or 5). The other 2/3 were a hodge-podge of routine filings like 10-K, 10-Qs and 8-Ks and more specialized filings like S-4s, which are more commonly used for mergers. As you can see from this chart, the number of filings hit a peak of 750,000 in 2007, the year before markets began to unravel.


Here are a few other interesting stats that the folks at MDR pulled too:

  • The busiest day for filings last year was Feb. 16, and five of the busiest days for the SEC were in February.
  • The largest single filing — weighing in at 4,086 pages — was this N-PX form filed by SPDR Index Share Funds. The largest 8-K, which was nearly 3,500 pages long, was filed by Caesar’s Entertainment.
  • General Motors (GM) had two of the largest 8-Ks filed last year at 2,535 pages and 2,509 pages respectively.
  • Financial services companies were very active when it came to filing: JP Morgan Chase (JPM) filed 1,604 different things with the SEC last year; Morgan Stanley (MS) filed over 1,100.
  • Companies filed nearly 80,000 8Ks last year and 25,990 10-Qs.
  • The SEC issued just shy of 10,000 comment letters last year.
  • Institutional investors filed over 11,000 Form 13F-HRs last year to disclose various positions.
  • We were fascinated — and a bit blown over — when we got these stats yesterday. But it also reminded us about the monumental task we face regularly as we try to keep up with the flow of filings. Just like the little Dutch Boy, who thought he could save his country, we feel like we’re doing something truly important. But it’s not always easy.

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