Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Rejoice, Calcbench fans! We are happy to say that one of your most common requests — “Hey, can you guys give me data on foreign firms?” — is now granted.

Earlier this year we quietly began compiling data from overseas filers that submit financial statements according to International Financial Standards (IFRS). For many years those firms’ data was not available, because their financial statements weren’t “tagged” in the XBRL technology that supports U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Hence you could revel in data from firms that filed according to U.S. GAAP, but not those that filed according to IFRS.

Well, last year the SEC mandated that IFRS filers get with the XBRL program, starting with annual reports for fiscal years ending on or after Dec. 15, 2017. For companies with Dec. 31 year-end dates, that means their first new filings began arriving in the last few weeks — and yep, we got ‘em.

We pulled together a few Q&As to help financial analysts understand what’s going on.

Q: So is this a big deal?

A:It can be, if you follow companies that file financial statements in IFRS. Now you’ll get to see their financial results along with good old GAAP filers, like you have been seeing for years.

Q: How do I see this data?

A: Just search for your target company as usual. If we have the filings (and usually we do), its results will appear just like any other search result Calcbench returns to you. You don’t need to configure any special settings or check any boxes or anything like that.

You can see whether a result you’re staring at is an IFRS filer in two ways. First, on the Company-in-Detail page, we flag IFRS filers in the upper-left corner as “IFRS filers.” (See Figure 1, below.)

Or if you’re looking at the disclosures of an IFRS filer, at the top of the disclosures you’ll see that the data comes from a Form 20-F or 40-F rather than a Form 10-K or 10-Q. The Form 20-F is what IFRS filers use. (See Figure 2, below.)

Q: What information will I see?

A: As much information as the filer provided — but remember that IFRS and GAAP are not always identical. You might not see some line items that exist in GAAP but not IFRS; or you might see line items or disclosures with the same name, but they don’t always mean the exact same thing.

The good news is that revenue is identical across GAAP and IFRS. Most other basic items are generally the same. But if you want to burrow into arcane line items and compare an IFRS company to its GAAP peers, you may want to consult with an accountant to ensure the numbers were calculated by similar means.

Q: Which companies are included in the new IFRS disclosures?

A: Companies that qualify as “foreign private issuers” under SEC rules. Foreign private issuers are overseas companies that trade less than 50 percent of their outstanding shares on U.S. markets. They’re subject to SEC filing requirements, but as we noted above, they file the Form 20-F instead of the Form 10-K.

Q: Is that a lot of filers?

A: The number isn’t small. We had more than 150 FPIs in our databases as of March 27, and those are only the large filers making their first XBRL-tagged filings, which were due only recently. Some of the more high-profile foreign private issuers include ArcelorMittal, GlaxoSmithKline, Wipro, Embraer, Statoil, Sanofi, Unilever, Ferrari, Telefonica.

We never had the data from those filers just a few keystrokes away. Now we do. And in the fullness of time, we’ll have many more filings, which means more data and more comparability across companies for Calcbench subscribers like you.

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