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We have said it before, and we will say it again: one of the best tools that Calcbench offers is our “Trace” feature. For almost any number you see, in any data analysis you conduct, you can trace that number back to a filer’s original source document.

We put so much effort into our Trace feature because we know accuracy is important for financial analysts. Errors in filings or analytics do happen. To bring the most value to our subscribers, then, we offer the Trace feature. When you see a number and say, “Huh, where did that come from?”—well, we can show you where it came from.

Q: So how does it work?
A:
From your end, it’s simple. Any time you see a number that is hyper-linked, that’s the Trace feature in action. Click on the number, and you can drill down to find the original document with the original number.

Q: What do I see when I trace?
A:
Several things, depending on exactly where you are and what number you’re looking at. If you are looking at a summary of primary financial statements for one company and click on a number there, a new box will emerge from the right-hand side showing you that number’s details in the footnotes.

Those new numbers will be traceable too. If you click on one of them, another box will rise from the bottom of your screen. That will show you the Unit of Measurement for the number (generally U.S. dollars), the period it was reported, and XBRL tag the company used to classify that number according to U.S. GAAP. You’ll also have a “Get History” feature on that bottom box, to see what the company reported for that same line item in the previous four periods.

Q: OK, that’s if I’m in the primary financial statements, and I can trace back to the footnotes. What if I’m already in the footnotes database?
A:
You can get lost in the nitty-gritty there, too, if that’s what you want. For example, if you let your cursor hover over a number that’s traceable, a box might appear comparing this period’s number (say, for a revolving credit line) with the same value one year ago, including the percentage change from that period to this one. Or if the number you’re looking at doesn’t have a year-ago counterpart (maybe it’s the percentage rate on a new loan), a box will appear saying “click to trace.” Click, and the same info-box emerging from the bottom of your screen that we described above.

All our Trace features are intuitive to use, and they always bring you back to exactly where in the source filings we found the number.

Q: Sounds slick. Can I see an example?
A:
Sure. We have a detailed example in our blog archives, walking through data that Campbell Soup reported about several acquisitions it made, 2013-2015. (Pictures included.)

Q: You seem to have put a lot of work into this Trace feature.
A:
We have, because we believe that accuracy of data is important. We know that financial analysts and corporate controllers want rock-solid assurance that the data you’re using is correct, before you go putting a recommendation into a research note or make a prediction in that PPT presentation to the management committee.

Our Trace feature gives you that proof. You can see where all our numbers came from. No other data providers can boast of functionality and assurance like that. Calcbench can.


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