Written by Bob Schneider Posted on October 26, 2010
The final rule on interactive data requires companies to post the XBRL files they submit to the SEC on their corporate websites (see Section 2B5 Web Site Posting of Interactive Data, pp. 74-79). The rule states that the data be made available through the website address the company ordinarily uses to communicate with investors and that it remain posted for at least 12 months. The specific presentation, however -- appearance, design, location, etc. -- is not prescribed.
To examine how companies were handling presentation, I reviewed the websites of 100 companies selected at random from the XBRL Cloud EDGAR Dashboard. I wanted to know (a) whether the data was indeed available at the site, (b) the area of the Investor Relations section it resided, and, most important, (c) how it was presented.
It did not appear that noncompliance was a significant problem. Of the 100 companies, I could not locate XBRL data for five. As discussed in footnote 206 on p. 75 of the final rule, there are various provisions that extend the grace period for website posting, which may account for the absent XBRL files. I did not research each of these five exceptions, although I did note that three of the companies were recent first-time filers.
Of the remaining 95 filers, 61 – or about two-thirds – provided XBRL data in a format of which PetSmart provides a typical example. Drilling down from its Investor Relations gateway page to find the XBRL files for, say, a recent quarterly (10-Q) report, the user will:
1. Click on SEC Filings
2. Open the Groupings Filter dropdown and select Quarterly Filings
3. Click Search
4. Locate the needed 10-Q and click the Interactive Data icon at the far right of the Downloads column (see image below)
From there, the user can click on the files (such as instance document or linkbases) to download them; typically, there is also a link to XBRL Viewer where the user can open the View Reports dropdown and choose to see various parts (e.g., balance sheet, accounting policies) of the report.
Note that the URL for many of these companies’ SEC filings begins with http://phx.corporate-ir.net/, a Thomson-Reuters page; apparently most (if not all) of this data is provided through an information intermediary.
An additional 14 companies use a similar format where Steps 1 to 3 are basically the same. In the list of 10-Q’s, users click the Quarterly Report link for the report they wish to access, and it opens in HTML format. The user can access the XBRL files by clicking the I icon at the far right of the icon bar (see image below).
The two "add-on" methods -- i.e., the XBRL filings are simply added to an existing scheme of Word, Excel, and PDF formats -- account for more than three-quarters of the sample.
The remaining 15 or so sites provide and present XBRL data in a variety of ways. At Adobe, XBRL files are prominently displayed and clearly labeled; click the link for any XBRL quarterly report and a page opens where you can access all XBRL files. In its Investor Relations section, Eaton has a separate link under Financial Reports for XBRL filings; it opens a page with commentary on XBRL and links to download files. Legg-Mason has a dedicated page for its XBRL filings (see image below). East Group Properties provides examples of integrating XBRL exhibits with other financial data. (Note that in some cases, companies may use one of the “add-on” methods and also have additional links on selected pages for XBRL data.)
Overall, it appears companies are complying with the posting requirement by providing the XBRL data required. However, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed by the popular use of “add-on” methods. Visitors who want to find XBRL data at these sites may have difficulty locating it; they may also be confused by the icons used for interactive data, which to varying degrees are not intuitive. With companies already making the investment to create XBRL exhibits, we can only hope that they will come up with ways to present XBRL information in a fashion that highlights the value and opportunity it provides.