A start-up called SEC Watch of Mountain View, California is carving a space for itself in financial media with a service called MarketBrief, which automatically turns SEC filings into plain English reports.
Users of the site include retail investors, bankers, and corporate executives, who can find all sorts of otherwise ignored information in easily digestible form, sometimes to the chagrin of the companies that filed the information in the first place.
‘We’ve had general counsels write us saying you wrote about our CEO selling some shares, please take it down,’ says co-founder Jason Zucchetto. ‘We just ignore it and don’t take it down.’
What throws these smaller companies is that usually no one pays attention to their filings. But MarketBrief cranks out straight news stories based on public information and then puts them on the web, where Google’s search engine eventually picks them up. Not that the site focuses only on small companies, as the example below shows:
The company gets a data feed directly from the SEC, so is as quickly informed as Bloomberg or Dow Jones. But the automation lets it get an article out faster than a human can write.
It gets another advantage, as well, in data-heavy stories. MarketBrief’s computers can dig through previously released SEC data, looking for other filings in which companies or individuals appear.
For example, an inside trading story might also list what other stocks a person in question had traded in the last year. ‘Is it a normal trade for them or out of the ordinary?’ Zucchetto says.
MarketBrief will also compare similar forms from the same filer – 10-Qs from subsequent quarters, for example – and find what information has been added, deleted, or altered, which can highlight how a company has decided to change reporting information.
SEC Watch looks to make money through reader subscriptions as well as syndicating content to other publications and to financial institutions.
A survey showed that of the roughly 110,000 visitors a month the site draws, most seem to be retail investors with an average salary of over $100,000 and a large portfolio. However, Zucchetto doesn’t think that many IROs currently use the site.
[Article by Erik Sherman, Inside Investor Relations]