Friday, May 30, 2008
The SEC has published for comment proposed rules requiring companies to provide financial statement information in a form that would improve its usefulness to investors. Under the proposed rules, financial statement information could be downloaded directly into spreadsheets, analyzed in a variety of ways using commercial off-the-shelf software, and used within investment models in other software formats. The rules would apply to domestic and foreign public companies that prepare their financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles as used in the United States (U.S. GAAP), and foreign private issuers that prepare their financial statements using International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as promulgated by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Companies would provide their financial statements to the Commission and on their corporate Web sites in interactive data format using the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). The interactive data would be provided as an exhibit to periodic reports and registration statements, as well as to transition reports for a change in fiscal year. The proposed rules are intended not only to make financial information easier for investors to analyze, but also to assist in automating regulatory filings and business information processing. Interactive data has the potential to increase the speed, accuracy, and usability of financial disclosure, and eventually reduce costs. Comments should be received on or before August 1, 2008.