The Totally Practical, Not Even Slightly Sarcastic or Frustrated, Investor’s Guide to SEDAR – Part One

Welcome!

If you are reading this, you have likely decided you would like to go beyond the headlines and learn more about the details of some of your favourite (or hated) Canadian public companies. Whether you own shares, are considering buying shares, or trying to talk your spouse out of buying shares in a public company listed in Canada, the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (“SEDAR”) is a tool that can hep you make better informed decisions.

There are many paths that may have led you to want to discover more about SEDAR.

Maybe you wanted to read one of your holding’s financials for yourself; or maybe you wanted to see how your favourite company’s competition is doing; or maybe you just wondered where all those angry screenshots on Twitter come from that show a company’s executive team just made tens of millions of dollars in annual compensation, while generating almost no sales.

Regardless of what path brought you here, this guide was written to help you better qualify your investing decisions by finding the information that is meaningful to you.

Before we jump in, let’s start off with an imagined conversation you and I might have, if you had just logged on to SEDAR.com and we had previously agreed to a structured Q&A format that flowed somewhat logically toward the conclusion – until a final question was tacked on at the end that seems out of place, but I, as an explainer, felt I needed to address within this article.

Question: Why does this website look like it is from the 90s?

Answer: Because it is! I’ve been told they are planning on updating things, but unfortunately, they haven’t gotten around to it yet. On the plus side, documents aren’t uploaded in WordPerfect anymore and they now require documents to be filed in PDF format (with some exceptions). If you are under 30, feel free to take a break now and Google “WordPerfect”.

Question: So, all the key information I would need to understand a publicly traded company is here?

Answer: You might think that, but no! Many documents that might be useful in assessing the quality of a company are not uploaded to SEDAR. This includes, but isn’t limited to: corporate presentations, transcripts from earnings calls, current share price information, and documents that are only required by certain exchanges. For example, the Canadian Securities Exchange (“CSE”) requires issuers to file monthly progress reports (known as a Form 7) on their website, but you can’t find those here!

Question: Well, what IS here then?!

Answer: Lots! All public companies listed in Canada must file troves of documents on SEDAR as part of their continuous disclosure obligations that contain information you may find useful. These include quarterly financial statements, prospectus filings, business acquisition reports, executive compensation details, material press releases, and more!

Question: Wait, how come there is a press release filed on here telling me an executive at a company just listed his book on Amazon? I thought you said companies only filed ‘material press releases’ on here – how on earth could that be material?

Answer: Well, it’s not! Unfortunately, many companies do tend to publish their immaterial press releases to SEDAR. In fact, the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA”) have asked them to literally stop doing this in order to stop annoying and misleading people just like you. Don’t expect the CSA to get the companies to stop this anytime soon though – they aren’t exactly quick to discipline.

Question: Do I even need to use SEDAR, I mean, can’t I just get all this information off a company’s website?

Answer: No! It is true that many companies have an investor relations section on their website, but you’d be surprised how many documents they are legally required to file on SEDAR that don’t end up on their actual website. For some reason, I’ve found that documents detailing how much their executives are being paid are usually missing from their websites… I wonder why….

Question: Alright, it seems some of this information might be useful. So how do I get started?

Answer: Follow me!

Question: Wait! Before we get started… will SEDAR tell me when insiders, like a company’s executives, are dumping their shares? I might want to know that. Answer: Nope. That information can be found on SEDAR’s equally retro and obtuse cousin, SEDI. That of course assumes though that the executive isn’t delinquent and actually filed the proper disclosure in a timely manner… and ideally not one day before the company is about to initiate bankruptcy proceedings. Anyway, off to SEDAR!

Updated: You can read Part Two Here.


Information for this commentary was found via Sedar. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization or any organization mentioned. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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