New SEC Tool Eases Research on Public Companies

Analyzing the financial condition of publicly traded companies became much easier Feb. 15 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched "Financial Explorer" on its Web site. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox aid it will help investors quickly and easily analyze public companies' financial results and keep track of their required reports.

In the safety arena, this means it's easier to track results of companies including DuPont, 3M, MSA, Hagemeyer, and Kimberly Clark.

Financial Explorer offers instant diagrams and charts, using financial information provided to the SEC as "interactive data" in eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) to generate financial ratios, graphs, and charts depicting important information such as earnings, expenses, cash flows, assets, and liabilities. Investors can use Financial Explorer by visiting www.sec.gov/xbrl.

"XBRL is fast becoming the universal language for the exchange of business information and it is the future of financial reporting," said Cox. "With Financial Explorer or another XBRL viewer, investors will be able to quickly make sense of financial statements. In the near future, potentially millions of people will be able to analyze and compare financial statements and make better-informed investment decisions. That's a big benefit to ordinary investors."

The SEC already offered investors two other online viewers: the Executive Compensation viewer and the Interactive Financial Report viewer. The Executive Compensation can compare what 500 of the largest U.S. companies are paying their top executives, while the Interactive Financial Report viewer helps investors gather, analyze, and compare key financial disclosures filed voluntarily by public companies using XBRL. (To date, there have been 307 such filings from 74 companies, the agency said.)

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