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lotted Alerts. The only added value EDGAR ONLINE provides is the ability to access the real-time feed to see filings as soon as they are accepted. Searching the back files of EDGAR data is actually more primitive than using the free search service on the SEC's Internet site.

EDGAR ONLINE is the most cost-effective service if you need to monitor a few companies and you need to be alerted the moment those companies submit an EDGAR filing to the SEC. However, if you need to do any other searching, you are better off using the SEC's site or choosing one of the other value-added providers of EDGAR data.

Dedicated Service

In addition to the dial-up and CD-ROM versions of EDGAR that have been described here, the high-rollers can also purchase a direct feed of all EDGAR filings, delivered as soon as they have been accepted by the SEC. The major vendors of dedicated-line EDGAR delivery are Standard & Poor's S&P EDGAR, Disclosure's EdgarPlus, and Federal Filings' Edgar Direct. You can also purchase a feed directly from LEXIS-NEXIS, the prime subcontractor responsible for accepting, managing, and reselling the EDGAR filings for the SEC.

Obviously, this kind of service is priced out of the range of most customers, but for investment bankers, law firms and other business people needing quick access to all EDGAR filings as they are accepted at the SEC, this type of service is worth the cost. Most vendors provide some value-added features to the feed before forwarding the data to subscribers, tagging search fields, such as company name, filing type, SIC code, ticker symbol, and so on. These services usually deliver the data via a dedicated phone line or satellite dish. The information is fed into a software package that stores or distributes the documents within an organization and enables users to search for data by a variety of criteria. Costs for direct feeds usually range from $15,000 to $40,000 and up for a yearly subscription; well worth it if hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake but a bit steep for the occasional searcher or for anyone who can wait 24 to 48 hours for the information.

What to Choose?

When the EDGAR files first became available to the public two years ago, who would have expected that researchers would have so many options for accessing the information? Do you want to see filings as soon as they appear? Do you want to be able to search online to find filings back to 1993? Do you want the material on CD to facilitate its use by many searchers? Do you want all filings delivered to you automatically or do you want to retrieve them when you need them?

When the Taxpayer Assets Project first lobbied to make the SEC material available at no charge there was much hue and cry that the government was going to ruin the livelihood of those companies providing the information for a fee. Instead, it has spawned a new information industry niche in which both established players and newcomers are competing, both against each other and against the SEC's publicly-accessible site. Researchers are truly able to vote with their pocketbooks and take advantage of just the value-added services they need.

Comparison of Features

Search By:Ticker SymbolCompany NameDateFormSIC CodeBoolean LogicHow Current
SEC EDGAR [1]yesyesyesyesyesyes24-hour delay
EDGAR at NYUyesyesyesyesnolimited24-hour delay
yesyesyesyesyesyes2-10 day delay
Moody's Company
Data with EDGAR
yes [2]yesyesyesyes [2]yes [2]1 month delay;
updated online
GSI LIVEDGARnoyesyesyesyeslimitedreal-time
EDGAR ONLINEnoyesno [3]nononoreal-time

[1] SEC EDGAR offers plain string searching only--you are not searching by field.

[2] Available when searching the Company Data index, not when searching EDGAR filings directly.

[3] You can restrict your search to the last 90 days, since January 1, 1995, or since January 1, 1994.

Contact Information

EDGAR via the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

EDGAR via the New York University Stern School of Business

Cybernet Data Systems, Inc.
5 River Road, Suite 130
Wilton, CT 06897

Disclosure Inc.
5161 River Road
Bethesda, MD 20816
800/754-9690; 301/951-1300

Global Securities Information, Inc.
627 E Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004
800/669-1154; 202/628-1155

Moody's Investors Services
99 Church Street
New York, NY 10007
800/342-5647 Ext. 546; 212/553-0546


[1] For an explanation of the various SEC forms such as 10-K or 13-G, see either http://www.sec.gov/edaux/forms/edgform.htm (the SEC's description of forms) or http://www.disclosure.com/company-info/filings.html (Disclosure's description).

[2] Notess, Greg R. "SEC EDGAR and the Internet Town Hall." DATABASE 17, No. 4 (August 1994): p. 77-81.

[3] Bates, Mary Ellen. "Accessing SEC Filings via EDGAR." Information Advisor 6, No. 12 (December 1994): p. 1-3.

[4] Schwartz, Bonnie Fox. "EDGAR Update: the proliferation of commercial products." Legal Information Alert 15, No. 1 (January 1996): p. 1-5.


Mary Ellen Bates is an information broker and owner of Bates Information Services, providing research services to business. She is an active member of the Special Libraries Association and is President of the Association of Independent Information Professionals. She is the author of The Online Deskbook, published by Pemberton Press, and writes frequently for DATABASE, ONLINE, and ONLINE USER magazines.

Communications to the author should be addressed to Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services, 1829 Mintwood Place NW, Washington, DC 20009; 202/332-2360; mbates@access.digex.net or http://www.access.digex.net/~mbates/.

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