Filing size of 10-K reports

No too long ago a student asked me if it was possible to find out what the size was for specific filings of companies with the SEC. Specifically it concerned the 10-K filings which are the annual reports with a comprehensive summary of the companies financial health. As I understand it, the file size of these filings was to be used in an exercise and served as a proxy for financial reporting readability.

To find the original filings it is of course possible to use the EDGAR search option to find the original full-text filings and parts (including the XBRL filings):

Using the Central Index Key (CIK), Ticker, or Company name it is easy to find a specific company. Using the Filing Type search box you can narrow the search down to specific filings, like 10-K. This is often possible going back to 1993/1994 (depends on the company).

A specific 10-K filing overview in Edgar would look as follows:

If you need to do this for several hundreds of companies and multiple years it would take some time to collect the file size data. If you have access to the Audit Analytics database it is possible to get the 10-K file size for a large number of companies at once through the WRDS platform. Audit Analytics has a part database that is called Accelerated Filer.

Through this part database it is possible to get filings data (from 2000 to now) using Ticker lists or CIK lists. In the example output below I have put the following variables:

NAME = Company Name
FORM FKEY = Form name (10-K and 10-Q)
FISCAL YE = Fiscal Year End
FILE SIZE = Filing size

Example output using Excel to filter for just 10-K filings:

Important: If you look at the 2015 10-K form file size according to Audit Analytics for the company ADVANCE AUTO PARTS INC this is 17 MB. This corresponds (roughly) with the size of Complete submission file according to EDGAR: 17.748.770. The Complete submission file in Edgar includes not just text and html codes, but may also include pictures and any other file types (Excel files etc.).


Using XBRL files

More and more companies publish company results not only in quarterly and annual reports but also in the XBRL format. This makes it easier to view the filings and export reporting figures to other prorams like Excel for comparisons and further analysis. Specific features are built into accounting programs to allow for the production of XBRL filings. Some free software programs to view and use these filings have also been made. Two examples that are (mostly) targeted towards US company filings are: is an excellent free web-based program that allows you to view US company filings in XBRL and even allows for an easy comparison for more than one year. The program has an easy export option (after registration) for Microsoft Excel. Calcbench was named the 2012 winner of the XBRL Challenge, a contest for developers to build applications leveraging XBRL-formatted data from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database. A sample screen is shown below:

Dragon View (version 6.1) is a program from Rivet Software. It is a good tool that is easy to use and allows you to export the reported data to Microsoft Excel and HTML formats. The Excel export option is only available in the a licensed version of the program. A sample screen is shown below.


Companies & XBRL

The abbreviation XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. It is based om XML and is being developed as a freely available, open, and global standard for exchanging business information. Two of the earliest adopters are the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Committee of European Banking Supervisors (CEBS).
XBRL consists of an XBRL ‘instance’ which contains primarily the business facts being reported, and a collection of taxonomies (called a Discoverable Taxonomy Set (DTS)). These define metadata about these facts, such as what the facts mean and how they relate to one another. The current (2008) version of XBRL is 2.1, with corrections. More background information is available in Wikipedia and a specific XBRL website.

Many large US and internationally operating companies have started posting XBRL files on websites in addition to filing them with the government organizations like the Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 a study was carried out by the North Carolina University and it was found that the XBRL filing contained errors. I do not know how much the XBRL filings have improved the last few years but it is hazardous to take XBRL filings at face value.

The development and use of XBRL to file and report financial statements remains a big step forward, because it makes it easier to use and compare financials statements. This is true not only for investors but also for researchers and students. A study done in 2011 showed that the adoption of XBRL will definitely make it easier to get and evaluate information on company performance and governance.
One of the newest developments is the creation of a Global Reporting Initiative taxonomy (see also an earlier blog post on GRI). This taxonomy will make it easier for companies to also use XBRL for sustainability reporting. The taxonomy is available on the GRI website.