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Apr 22, 2024

Inside the minds of SEC influencers: From the Friday night dump to the ‘sexiest’ reporting season

Michelle Leder of footnoted* on her approach to examining filings, the numbers she always reads and why companies should just lay their cards on the table

‘I’m like the queen of Edgar, the Kim Kardashian of SEC filings,’ says Michelle Leder, author and founder of footnoted*. She might be joking but Leder has dug through thousands upon thousands of US company statements over the past two decades.

She’s one of a number of people who pore over SEC filings not just because it’s their job but also because they love finding the interesting numbers tucked away in a company statement or the unusual perks an executive might be taking home. So when Nick Mazing of AlphaSense described someone as an ‘SEC influencer’ on LinkedIn, Governance Intelligence sister publication IR Magazine decided to find out more about these filings experts. Who are these people? What is it they’re looking for, how do they dig into the details – and what makes them tick?

The stock started tanking

Leder explains that she came to the world of SEC sleuthing ‘very personally’. ‘I had been a business journalist,’ she explains. ‘And I bought shares in a company called Quest Communications. It was a small amount of money, but it meant a lot to me and I watched my investment grow. Then, all of a sudden, the stock started tanking. The press releases were saying things were great [but there were] a lot of hidden clues in the SEC filings.’

She published a book in 2003 – Financial fine print: Uncovering a company’s true value – as an ‘examination of my investment process. A post-mortem of what went wrong’. That led her to start footnoted*, the information service that has been digging into the filings fine print ever since. Talking about some of the ways in which companies try to ‘soften’ the impact of negative news, Leder points to the timing of a filing as a red flag.

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Garnet Roach

Garnet Roach joined IR Magazine in October 2012, working on both the editorial and research sides of the publication. Prior to entering the world of investor relations, her freelance career covered a broad range of subjects, from technology to...

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